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This month is “Organic September”, a month-long campaign championed by the Soil Association, during which all things organic are put in the spotlight.  Last year, the hashtag #organicseptember was used over 34,000 times, reaching almost 30 million people. Will this year’s campaign be as successful? 

The 2017 Organic Market Report reveals a +7.1% growth of organic food and drink in the UK, while the non-organic market continues to decline. The demand for organic is higher than ever, with this being the sixth year of sustained sales growth of organic food and drink in the UK. At the end of 2016 the organic market was worth over £2.09 billion.

Pelican have also seen the demand for organic products increase. As a food procurement specialist, Pelican manages a purchasing spend of £140m on behalf of a wide range of organisations with in-house catering operations from the education, hospitality and health care sectors.

Kelly Fry MCIPS, Senior Tender and Procurement Manager, says: “We are able to analyse the sales data to identify changes in buying patterns. Our data shows that the increase of purchases of organic lines rose to 7.05% from 5.28% last year.  The most popular product lines are still confectionery products, followed by pasta, bread and dairy.


>> What are the reasons for buying organic?

Generally, the underlying reasons behind buying organic food are an increasing interest in health, wellness, provenance and sustainability and some motives include:

1. It’s tastier and more nutritious

Some believe that organic food is more nutritious, but this is still debatable. Whilst there have been some studies showing that organic produce contains more nutrients, such as vitamin C, phosphorous and phytonutrients, the same studies also show that levels of other nutrients, such as nitrogen and protein, are actually lower. It is the soil quality, growing conditions, harvesting methods and timings that will have an impact on nutritional content. This makes it difficult to know if the differences are due to organic versus conventional.

To read further expert opinion, please see:

2. To avoid pesticides

It is worth noting that organic does not mean 100% pesticide free. There is some evidence, however, that organic foods contain lower levels of pesticides compared to conventionally produced food.

3. To ensure better animal welfare, support more wildlife and cultivate healthier soil.

4. Organic food is GM-free 



>> Growing demand – organic is here to stay

The interest in organic products goes beyond the niche of health shops on the high street, as over 8000 shops now sell organic in the UK and this demand has extended to the catering sector.

It is not surprising, therefore, that over 130 food service organisations and businesses have signed up to the Food for Life Served Here Award from the Soil Association. As part of the criteria to achieve the Silver Award, 5% of the total food spend must be on organic produce, or 10% if the organisation aims to achieve the Gold Award. As a result, more than £15.4 million (2016) is now spent on organic food through the Soil Association’s Food Served Here Award. This is an increase of £6m since the previous year.

Whatever the reasons for going organic it comes down to personal preference, so keeping abreast of what your customers want is what’s important here. Is it time to consider whether organic produce should be on your menu? The findings from HPI research show that while there are many buying influencers for organic, the ‘trinity’ of three key virtues for consumers comprises ‘tastes fantastic’, ‘healthier for you’ and ‘is worth it’. 

To find out more about how Pelican can help your business with procuring organic and healthier food, please email me on



Bio about Anna:

Anna-Maria Holt BSc Hons. RD is Company Dietitian and Health & Wellbeing at Pelican Procurement Services.
Anna is a registered dietitian with experience of working with clients across schools, care homes and the hospitality industry for nearly 10 years.


Anna-Maria Holt

Company Dietitian and Health & Wellbeing Lead at Pelican Procurement Services

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