Organic food sales on track to hit €100m this year
SALES of organic food are expected to hit the €100m mark this year for the first time.
New research by Bord Bia shows that health concerns – like restrictive detox diets – and special occasions – like romantic dinners – are the main reasons for going organic.
Sales of organic food have risen by 2pc in the last year to €99.1m, with 60pc of shoppers putting some in their basket in the past six months and a quarter buying more than they did.
Urban women are the biggest fans of organic food, with health concerns the number one reason for purchasing it.
The fact it's free from chemicals and pesticides is the big draw for most of those buyers, with a belief it's healthier.
Organic food is also popular as a gift, for dinner parties, Christmas dinner and evening meals and two-thirds of those who buy it do so for romantic meals at home.
The Bord Bia survey of 850 consumers found sales of organic food have risen by 50pc in the last decade, although they're down from their peak of €106m back in 2010.
One in every nine hectares of land is now devoted to growing organic food, around 52,000 hectares, and there are 1,721 organic producers registered in Ireland.
However, many people find it hard to locate organic food in shops and two-thirds of those who do buy it said they'd like to see it stocked in the one place instead of having to seek it out in different aisles.
Lower prices, a bigger range of products and a wider selection of Irish organic food were all factors that consumers said would encourage them to buy more organic.
However, one in five shoppers has no interest in buying it even if the price fell, the report found. Research body Teagasc said there were shortages in the domestic market for homegrown Irish grain, milk, fruit and vegetables.
Farmer Oliver Dixon, from Claremorris, Co Mayo, said organic beef fetches higher prices of between 15pc and 20pc more than conventional beef, which had made it worth his while to undergo the two-year conversion process to get organic certification.
He added: "I went into organic mainly for financial reasons, but also because I had an interest in it.
"Now I am making higher margins, mainly because of my lower costs and higher prices which I now get for my cattle."