Organic box companies will find 2009 tough, according to Soil Association research

Organic box scheme operators could find 2009 a challenging year, according to research by the Soil Association for its annual market report published this month.

It believes medium-sized box schemes could be hardest hit through a combination of increased competition from significant players such as Riverford Organic Vegetables and Abel & Cole, as well as the economic downturn.

"They have a smaller core of fiercely committed customers than the smallest schemes and yet they lack the kind of marketing resources that the bigger players have to pull in new business," it said.

The report added that price comparisons over the past year show organic fruit and vegetables from box schemes are consistently cheaper than supermarkets.

Alan Schofield, who runs the UK's longest-running vegetable box scheme, Growing with Nature, said business had slowed over the past two years due to crops lost through bad weather and the recession.

"Over the past year, it has been harder to find new customers - with the response to our leaflet drops at an all-time low," he said. "Some customers who are looking to save money see our weekly box of vegetables as a saving that can be made despite the fact that our produce is better value now than ever before."

Vegetables account for the highest proportion of spend on organic products, at 16.3 per cent. UK organic area down to vegetable crops has steadily increased, with allium and root crops standing at over 2,000ha in 2008, potatoes at 2,550ha and green vegetables, salads and protected crops at 4,000ha.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Buoyant demand for UK apples but frost and labour remain concerns

Buoyant demand for UK apples but frost and labour remain concerns

As the British apple season begins, English Apples & Pears (EAP) is warning that growers will feel the effects of both a late frost in spring and also constrained labour supply.

Tomorrow's tractors

Tomorrow's tractors

These machines have advanced rapidly over recent years but what does the future hold? Sally Drury looks ahead.

Tractors for growers

Tractors for growers

The latest specialist tractors are providing wider choice for growers working in narrow rows, Sally Drury reports.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon