June 16, 2021

Reports indicating that organic meat sales in the UK have increased may be misleading, because they mask the reality that actual quantities sold may have decreased, researchers have suggested.

According to Dr Cesar Revoredo-Giha, of the London School of Economics (LSE), and Dr Adelina Gschwandtner, of the University of Kent, rising prices largely account for the greater quantities of sales by value.

In a new blog post released by the LSE, the researchers argued that the UK should adopt measures similar to those recently advocated by the European Union (EU) in its own organic strategy.

To take beef as an example, their analysis of prices and quantities between 2013 and 2020 found that prices increased by 3.3%, usually average annualised monthly figures, while quantities decreased 10.5% using equivalent metrics.

Similar patterns were seen with lamb and pork, while poultry was an exception, with quantities increasing as prices decreased slightly.

“The data show that in the case of the organic meat market, any increase in the value of sales was mostly due to rising prices rather than consumer uptake,” the researchers wrote.

The two academics also found that organic beef, lamb, pork and poultry had a market share of less than 5% in the UK and, in most cases, it was much lower than this.

The actual picture contrasted with what the researchers described as “the frequently shown upbeat news regarding the sector”.

They said their results indicated the need, if organic meat sales are to gain market share, to expand both demand and supply, which, they noted, matches the approach of the EU’s recently published, “Action plan for the development of the organic sector,” which aims for 25% of land to be under organic husbandry by 2030.

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