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High grain prices affect organic food in UK

Because of record cereal prices, the price of organic food in Great Britain is set to rise and it is suspected the decade-long growth in sales could falter.

According to the UK Soil Association, the main organic certification farming body, organic pig and poultry farmers are struggling to feed their livestock because prices are so high. Farmers are also fearful that supermarkets will be reluctant to pass on the increase to consumers.

Organic sales saw a 22% increase on the 2006 figures, but organic producers believe that growth in sales of organic food is unlikely to be sustained at last year's levels. This is because not enough organic grain is being produced in Britain.

State of flux
Helen Browning, the Association's director of food and farming: "We are in a state of real flux. Prices will need to go up across the board. And we are very nervous about the pig and poultry sector." According to Browning, the factors which have caused a rise in conventional grain prices - low harvests in many regions of the world, bad weather in Europe and growing demand from east Asia - have been compounded for organic farmers by a shortage of arable land in organic production.

Organic grain prices are some of the highest in Europe. It is expected that the high prices will be felt most immediately in the pig and poultry sector, which are most dependent on cereal-based feeds.

The price of organic oats reached up to £268 (€397) per ton last week and feed wheat £240 (€356), compared with £215 (€319) earlier this summer. Conventional wheat has gone up even more, from £90 (€13) to £145 (€215).

Related website:
Soil Association

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