By DAILY MAIL REPORTER
12 August 2011
Organic food production down as farmers blame supermarkets for fading interest
Farmers have started to turn away from producing organic food because of dwindling interest from supermarket chains, figures reveal.
Land set aside for organic cultivation in the UK has fallen by two-thirds since 2007, according to data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Only 51,000 hectares were in 'conversion' - being prepared to go organic - across the UK last year, less than half the amount the previous year.
Even the higher figure for 2009 was massively down on 2007 which saw a peak of 158,000 hectares being moved across, according to The Guardian.
Demand for organic produce has dropped two years in a row as shoppers go for cheaper products because of the recession and higher food costs.
Figures from the Soil Association earlier this year put sales down 5.9 per cent from £1.84billion to £1.73billion.
This followed a 12 per cent drop in 2009 which brought to an end 16 years consecutive growth.
Declining interest is blamed on the harsh economic climate as families find they can no longer afford to spend so much on groceries.
As much as 10 per cent of the land dedicated to organic production has also gone, with the number of producers falling from 7,896 to 7,567.
However, farmers insist that moving to organic has cut their costs and maintain consumer interest is still strong outside the main supermarkets.
Ian Noble, representing a 12-farm cooperative in Devon, told The Guardian: 'There might be lots of farmers who think they can't afford to go organic because they think the market is restricted but if they looked into it they would find it can be cost effective.'
Adrian Dolby put 7,000 acres into organic cultivation in 2005 and added: 'If we hadn't gone organic, we would have gone out of business.'