Reporting in Keith Ball, head of processor technical services, the Soil Association

24 November, 2006
We certify around 80% of the organic food on sale in the UK - from small bakeries making organic flapjacks, for instance, to multinational manufacturers supplying organic bread to supermarkets. Every stage of the bakery process, from the growing of the wheat to the release agents used, must comply with strict regulations and the products must be certified organic.
The organic sector is growing significantly, at roughly 10% a year, and it is the largest growing sector in the food market. To become certified, a baker must fill in an application and their premises will be inspected. The inspector will then issue a compliance form, explaining areas where a baker may not be meeting organic standards. Sometimes this will result in a second inspection. Once the accrediting body has received the signed compliance form it can send a certificate of registration and schedules so a baker can then start trading as organic. A baker can add as many new products to their licence as they like while the certificate is valid by sending a specification to us for approval.Although we would like to see everybody making organic products, realistically it is not for everyone. Organic ingredients are usually higher in price because of things like crop rotations, where some land is left unused to build fertility, and labour-intensive weeding due to restricted use of chemical inputs. There are also the costs of small volume production. This is where high volume production is cashing in.

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