BRITISH farmers are struggling to meet growing demand for home grown organic produce, according to a new report.
The new research by market analysts MINTEL shows that despite an impressive growth in sales, the organic food sector has been hampered by supply problems.
The sector is now worth £1.5 billion every year – up 70 per cent since 2002 – but despite the growth, the market is failing to reach its full potential.
David Bird, senior market analyst at MINTEL said: “The lengthy conversion process from regular to organic farming takes several years to complete.
“Because of this many producers have not been able to react quickly to satisfy the growing demand for home grown organic food.”
The research found that a growing awareness of food miles has led many consumers to switch to locally grown, organic produce, with imports now making up less than 30 per cent of the market.
However, the shift towards organic food has led to serious supply problems for the industry, according to the report.
Analysts expect the market to increase in value by 54 per cent by 2012, with sales set to break through the £2 billion mark by 2011.
And as schemes such as organic boxes become increasingly popular – recording growth of 109 per cent in just two years – farmers are being urged to switch to organic production.
Mr Bird said: “Looking ahead, British interest in local organic food is only likely to increase.
“To try and stem future supply problems, the industry needs to convince more farmers that it is worth going organic, and that there is a lot of potential in being able to offer people organic produce that is locally sourced.”
Whilst fruit, dairy products and vegetables have been the most successful organic produce to date, recent high-profile campaigns to encourage consumers to buy higher welfare and organic produce is expected to fuel a further surge in demand.