Market Update 27th January 2023

The two big beasts in the organic world the US and Germany with €45 and €12 Billion in retail sales respectively [Source: IFOAM The World of organic agriculture – statistics and emerging trends 2021] are reporting they are feeling the effects of the economic downturn with both reporting falls in their organic food sales.  The Germans are reporting a 4.1 % reduction in the organic food market by the end of October ‘22 and the US reporting that fresh produce sales volume fell by 3.7% through ‘22 (although value grew by 3%).  

The UK doesn’t have any published data for 2022 but anecdotally the industry here is seeing similar challenges to the Germans and Americans with feed companies reporting their volumes are down and flour millers too indicating their demand is lower.  The tendency of the organic market in the UK to report performance based upon value rather than volume is a problem as it hides what is happening at a farm level.  Looking at grain sales for the last quarter on a value basis and making a year-on-year comparison could suggest that “sales are up about 55%” but this is purely highlighting the difference in grain values between the two periods, but as suggested above demand is waning.  Actually the volumes sold are down about 30% over the period so it shows how misleading it can be if values and volumes are taken in isolation.

The market remains challenging with buyers uncertain and defensive as a result of not knowing what is happening with demand and seeking to reduce costs.  The conventional market shows little dynamism and so it is anticipated that markets will continue with the current stupor.