ANDY HARPER: Well my New Year’s Resolution is to try and think more about the food I’m buying, and to try and buy more local produce, and to eat more healthily, rather than looking for convenience foods, things that are easier to prepare and knock out straight away, give it a bit more thought, and not buy everything at the supermarket, even though it’s easy just to pull up, do the lot, and then go home. And I must admit it’s going quite well. I went to a local butchers on Saturday, great value on a fresh chicken, great value on some offers on various bits of meat. And then went next door to a greengrocers, and so much cheaper and better than the supermarket. So things are going well. I do buy organic wherever possible, but I’n not dogmatic about organic, as long as I know where something comes from, and it’s freshly produced. But how is the organic business in this country at the moment? Well currently we are sixth in the league of organic consumption. But let’s find out if the economy has been hitting the producers, and indeed the retailers as well. I’m delighted to say we can talk to Anna Rosier from the Organic Trade Board. Anna, good morning to you.
ANNA ROSIER: Good morning.
ANDY HARPER: So has organic food become a victim of the squeeze on our wallets?
ANNA ROSIER: I’m not sure that it’s become a real victim any more than any other industry. So we’ve obviously seen a slight downturn in our sales, but we’re coming back with a new campaign, to try and make sure people can undertand why they might love organic.
ANDY HARPER: And obviously most of us appreciate the difference between organic food and anything else, what would you say is the clincher if it comes to buying organic produce?
ANNA ROSIER: Well I think the thing with organic is there’s so many reasons why people might love organic, and that’s part of the campaign that we’re trying to launch, is to find out what your reason might be. It could be animal welfare, it could be less pesticides, it could be great tasting food. And it’s really about each individual buying it for their reason.
ANDY HARPER: And of course I suppose in the main categories we would be talking about meat, and then fruit and veg, wouldn’t we?
ANNA ROSIER: Yes, and also dairy as well, the things like milk and cheese.
ANDY HARPER: Yes. And how are sales? Because meat’s expensive anyway, isn’t it? I must admit I bought a free range chicken from a butcher the other day, on Saturday, and I was really surprised at the price of it, and it tasted nice, given what I could have got in the supermarket.
ANNA ROSIER: What? That you could have bought cheaper in the supermarket?
ANDY HARPER: No not cheaper. No. And not to suit my satisfaction. really.
ANNA ROSIER: Yes. I think the challenge for all of us these days is really to shop around, and find what suits you. So whether that’s local, or whether it’s organic, or whether it’s both. And I would really advise people to shop around and maybe challenge our perception of how expensive things might be.
ANDY HARPER: The supermarkets have organic shelves and organic departments. Is this a nod towards it, or are they taking it seriously?
ANNA ROSIER:I think they’re starting to take it quite seriously. We did see, earlier on, after the recession, we saw some of the supermarkets start to take organic food out, but what they saw was their sales detrimentally hit everywhere else as well, because people do see it as part of their shop. So whether that’s milk, or it’s meat, or it’s fruit and veg, or some of your staples, people are buying organic. And when you don’t offer that to them, they then go and shop elsewhere.
ANDY HARPER: We want people to buy organic food for all the reasons you’ve stated, but ultimately it is about the wallet, isn’t it? And whilst I’m fortunate enough to be able to work, and therefore I can make a choice, there are people who are on very strict incomes. We’re hearing about the increased cost of petrol, the increased cost of virtually everything, therefore if they can see something in a supermarket which might not be organic, but it’s a couple of quid cheaper, then you can understand them going for it.
ANNA ROSIER:: Yes. This campaign is not about trying to get everytone to buy everything organic, by no means. I think it’s really about people have something they really value, which may be animal welfare, it might be less pesticides, it could be about taste, or it could be about natural food. If they do value that, then I would ask them to go into the store, challenge the prices as well, because they might be surprised on some of them. And if they want to make that choice, then buy it. But we’re certainly not advocating everyone turn organic. It’s really down to people’s choice, and finding why they might love organic.
ANDY HARPER: You mention the campaign, why I love organic, which I think is going to be a sort of a three year campaign, for it’s an ongoing thing. What will you be doing?
ANNA ROSIER:Yes. Well what we’re doing is it’s kind of three pillars. There’s PR activity, so we’ll be focusing on new stories that are seasonal, and relevant to what’s happening in the country at that time. There’ll also be advertising, so people can see, and it’s almost a prompt to purchase really. And then a digital campaign, and that’s the really exciting part of that, where people can use Facebook or Twitter or websites to really start to communicate why they might love organic, and also to get information, so loads of recipes, and lots of information and competitions, and ways of really getting involved and talking about organic.
ANDY HARPER: Anna, it’s been good to talk to you. Thanks very much for joining us.
ANNA ROSIER:That’s great thanks.
ANDY HARPER: Cheers. That’s Anna Rosier from the Organic Trade Board.