The Organic Trade Board (OTB), the UK's peak organic industry body, announced in January that in partnership with Organic Denmark, it has been successful in a joint funding application to the EU to promote the Organic food and drink sector.

The OTB said that the project will receive EUR10.4million to run a three-year campaign to promote organic food working with brands, processors and retailers to drive growth in the sector.

"The OTB bid was successful as the campaign will focus on growing retail sales, increasing employment in organic agriculture and raising awareness of the benefits of organic food and drink. 70 percent of the fund will be spent in the UK," The OTB said.

OTB campaign manager Catherine Fookes explained to OWN that the OTB met Organic Denmark at the BioFach show in Germany a couple of years ago and felt there were some great synergies regarding the consumer profile of organic shoppers.

Ms. Fookes, who has worked on the funding bid for two years, said that the OTB "also felt we could learn from each other’s work and market development".

"The EU money has been awarded under their promotion policy: DG Agriculture and Rural Development, European Commission, governed by EU regulation no.1144/2014, other eligible products and schemes are all agricultural products excluding tobacco; also fishery products and EU Quality Schemes (including organic)."Ms Fookes said.

The EU funding is split between the two countries, with the UK receiving a budget of €7.2m, and Denmark receiving €3.2m over three years.

"With the OTB receiving 70 per cent of the funding and Organic Denmark 30 percent, each country will have a joint advertising campaign for use in advertising online, 'Out of Home', and at point of sale in multiple retailers and independent stores, as well as PR and events such as Wake up to Organic in the UK (," Ms. Fookes explained.

“This award will enable us to triple the investment in helping grow the organic food and drink sector. The “Organic, Naturally Different Campaign” succeeded in growing sales and changing attitudes to organic - many more consumers now understand its value. With the increased spend we will do even more to grow the market, including collaboration with major retailers, in-store promotions, shopper marketing, and national ad campaigns.”

The UK Organic market grew by 5.6 percent in 2016, is worth GBP1.4 billion p.a. and represents 1.8 percent of total grocery sales. In contrast, the non-organic sector grew by only 0.6 percent last year.

"Despite this encouraging growth, we lag behind other countries showing dynamic organic growth – Denmark was up 18 percent in the second half of 2016, representing 10 percent of all retail food sales," the OTB said.

"Across European countries, average growth in organic sales is 9 percent p.a. The UK is half the size of the French Market and one third that of Germany."

The initiatives in both countries were quite a team effort. On the OTB side, Ms Fookes led the submission and Paul Moore, CEO of the OTB was also involved. On the Organic Denmark side the team was led by Helle Bossen. 

Adrian Blackshaw, chairman of OTB, said “We are delighted to have won this bid and to be able to share best practice with our partner, Organic Denmark. The aim of the campaign, estimated to be the largest international organic campaign, is to grow the organic sector and increase total annual spend on organic.

"Given the worldwide growth in organics, we are excited at the export potential for UK producers and brand owners.”

The campaign has been match funded by 60 OTB member companies, which account for 70 percent of the UK organic market, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, OMSCo, major brands such as Doves Farm Foods and Rachel’s, plus independent retailers and wholesalers.

OTB members have pledge GBP340,000 p.a. The total fund will be GBP1.7m p.a.

Henrik Hindborg, marketing director at Organic Denmark said: "Denmark has become the world’s leading organic nation, with organic food sales representing 10 percent of all food sales in 2016, moving organic from “niche” to “mainstream.”

"We have had 10 years of consistent growth, with half of all Danes now buying organic food every week. This has been achieved through a combination of effective organic policies and close co-operation with Danish retailers. We are looking forward to working alongside our British counterparts and sharing our joint enthusiasm and expertise.”