Exports will be the focus of the organic dairy sector as it looks to continue its growth.
Despite growth of 2.2 per cent last year, the UK lagged behind key international markets, such as the US which was growing 10 per cent per year.
Richard Hampton, managing director of the Organic Milk Suppliers Co-operative, said exports had become ‘increasingly important’ for UK products.
“Export expansion has been constrained in the last couple of years by a lack of supply due to the UK market recovery and last year’s poor growing season,” he said.
However, 60 million extra litres will be available over the next three years from producers converting to organic to meet export demand.
In the UK, standard milk volumes fell by 1.9 per cent year on year but organic milk ‘bucked the trend’, growing 4.4 per cent.
Mr Hampton said growth was driven by consumer demand for health benefits and a provenance story and he expected this would remain strong.
Over the last year, one in four UK households bought organic milk.
“However, there are threats, notably the emergence of ‘single issue’ products – such as free range or ethical food – the benefits of which are covered by the organic standard but may not be understood by consumers. On the export front, Brexit poses a significant threat to export-led food sectors, including organic dairy, as does as any potential downturn,” he said.
Clare McDermott, Soil Association business development director, agreed it was important not to ‘confuse consumers when organic already gives the answers’.
It came as Asda announced it would expand its free-range milk offering into more than 250 extra stores following a ‘fantastic’ reaction from customers.
Asda became the first major retailer to launch the milk in March.
Five new farmers have been recruited to fulfil demand and 367 stores will stock the milk.