Organic UK readies autumn reassurance push

The organic food community is set to fight back against a slump in sales with a multimillion pound joint marketing campaign, partly funded by major brands including Green & Black’s and Yeo Valley Organic.

According to the Soil Association’s annual report, sales of organic food fell almost 13% in 2009 on the back of the recession.

The industry-funded Organic Trade Board was founded last year and has devised a campaign that will run under the banner “Organic UK”. It is due to break in October and will aim to win back the customers who have deserted organic as a result of the recession or on the back of a Food Standards Agency study that found organic food wasn’t healthier than “normal” food.

Over 80 companies, including Organix and Rachel’s, have pledged a combined £315,000 a year for a three-year campaign – £65,000 above the target, to the Organic Trade Board. It is seeking match funding from the EU that would see the pot swell to almost £2m.

Sophie Daranyi, CEO at Haygarth, which won a four-way pitch to run the project, says this is the kind of budget that can “make a difference” for the industry.

She says the full campaign will aim to do much more than preach to the converted. “We’ll focus on the loyal shoppers first, but then we want to attract those that buy organic from time to time,” says Daranyi.

Advertising and PR will take the lion’s share (75%) of the funding, with a primer campaign having already started with a new website and advertorials in The Guardian.

Key to rekindling shoppers’ desire to buy organic will be simple messaging, say experts. Simon Wright, who runs consultancy OF+ Consulting, says the organic industry made a “huge mistake” years ago when it failed to make its messaging and marketing tactics clear enough.
He says: “It needs to demystify the messaging and give consumers a reason to believe.”

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