Melchett says future of organic farming is bright despite doom mongers

THE Soil Association’s policy director has insisted that reports of organic farming’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

At an organic milk summit sponsored by milk co-operative OMSCo, all five speakers made reference to the impact the consumer credit crunch is having on organic sales.

Yeo Valley director Karl Tucker admitted sales of the company’s yoghurt products were down this year. Tesco dairy category manager Alain Guilpan said the retailer’s organic products were ‘under pressure’ as shoppers switched to its value range and sales in discounters like Aldi and Lidl grew.

However, the Soil Association’s Peter Melchett insisted that he remained ‘very optimistic’ about the organic sector’s future.

He said ‘the death of organic farming’ had been blown up in the media and while things were tough, the fundamental drivers behind the organic boom ‘remained in our favour’.

Consumers still wanted good quality food produced in a way that looked after the welfare of animals and the environment and policy makers still saw organic farming as having a role to play in the fight against climate change, he said.

“This is not a time to be re-trenching, it is a time to forge ahead. There are still huge opportunities out there but we must do more to communicate the benefits of organic to consumers,” he said.

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