Value sales of organic bread and bakery products dropped by 18.2% last year, as high prices due to soaring wheat costs deterred cost-conscious shoppers.

According to the Soil Association’s Organic Market Report 2009, which is based on TNS Worldpanel data, sales of organic bread fell by 13.1%. "Organic shoppers, like all consumers, have clearly been tightening their belts - shopping less often, buying fewer premium products and prepared foods and switching to lower-cost retailers," said Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association.

Overall, the report said that sales of organic bakery goods in the multiples were worth £113m last year. Category winners included Asda and the Co-op, which saw organic bakery sales rise by 12% and 47%, respectively.

Lindsay Kilifin, marketing manager for The Village Bakery, said the recessionary climate had made trading difficult, although its organic brand continued to hold its own. "Our greatest area of decline has been in independent retailers, with stockists clearly finding life on the high street increasingly difficult," she said.