The steady growth in organic foods presents new opportunities for brands and retailers, research from market data company Nielsen has revealed. 

The organic market increased by 3% in the 52 weeks to 15 August 2015, compared to the continued fall in non-organic sales of -1.2% in the same period. It revealed annual sales growth doubled that reported in 2014 (+1.2% in the 52 weeks to August 15 2014 compared with +3% for 2015).

Confidence is back in the organic market with Soil Association Certification holders reporting booming sales in the last few months, Nielsen added. 

The figures were presented by head of retailer and business and insight at Nielsen Mike Watkins at the Soil Association’s annual market briefing.

Watkins said: “To me it is clear that brands need to look for growth through new channels and to reach out to developing categories, such as alcoholic drinks, confectionery and snacks, which offer the opportunity to capture their customer and create loyalty. Products should be affordable, accessible and achievable.”

Speakers at the event including Sainsbury’s head of product development and technology fresh & frozen foods Beth Hart agreed that keeping pace with this change can present a huge opportunity for growth in organic.

“The basket size of our organic customer exceeds that of a non-organic shopper, which highlights the importance of our SO Organic range,” Hart said.

“Our values are really important to us as a retailer, including how we source our products and the impact this can have on the environment. Soil is at the root of all the food we produce and our pioneering work with farmers aims to improve the farmland and soil we’re responsible for.”

Clare McDermott, business development director at Soil Association Certification, said: “The UK’s organic market is looking immensely positive for the future. Since the beginning of the year we have had over 1,000 new product applications with Soil Association Certification and an increase of 14% in the last six months in number of new applicants for organic certification.

“Brands are releasing new lines and expanding their offerings to respond to food trends and demands.”