The development of the organic vegetable market and supply in the UK

Chris Firth, Ulrich Schmutz

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The vegetable market is one of the largest sectors within the UK organic food market. This market has grown by 30% p.a. over the last 5 years, although it is now slowing down to a rate of 10-15% p.a. The production of UK organic vegetables increased rapidly from 1999 -2001, as growers responded to economic and policy incentives, and now the UK is 57% self sufficient in organic vegetables. Many new UK farmers have converted to organic production, although this process has involved high costs, largely due to having to take land out of production in the conversion period. However, once converted, farmers have in many cases, experienced overall financial returns that have been comparable or higher than conventional returns, although these good returns are highly dependent on high prices for organic vegetables. In comparison with conventional systems costs of organic vegetable production can be high, especially for organic seeds and for increased casual labour required for hand weeding. The resulting larger workforce, often required for organic vegetable production, can pose new management challenges. In the future, market growth and the numbers of farmers converting, will be slower and any market growth will depend on broadening the customer base, expanding different market channels and increasing home production especially at the beginning and the end of the season, thus enabling a substitution of imports.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2003
EventAgricultural Economics Society, March-2003, 1-11 - , United Kingdom
Duration: 1 Mar 20031 Mar 2003


ConferenceAgricultural Economics Society, March-2003, 1-11
CountryUnited Kingdom

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