Iceland came under fire at the Soil Association National Conference for Organic Food over its decision to charge conventional prices for its organic range. Iceland md Russell Ford insisted rivals were putting organic food beyond the reach of ordinary consumers. "We talk about a choice between natural and conventional food," he said. "It's only a choice if people can afford it." But Sainsbury's organics technical manager Robert Duxbury warned that Iceland's pledge to absorb the additional costs involved in organic production rather than passing them on to the consumer would prove counterproductive in the long term. Attacking competitors' "posturing on the price of organic foods", Duxbury warned "downward pressure on prices will inevitably lead to people taking short cuts". An organics price war was not in anyone's interests, he said. "Consumers should be aware of the true costs of organic food." Lizzie Vann, founder of top organic babyfoods manufacturer Organix, was equally sceptical about Iceland's organic pricing strategy. "Subsidies by retailers are not the answer to price parity," she said. "Rushing into that is a misguided strategy in the long term. "Even if premiums come down a bit with more efficient farming techniques and growing expertise, organic food will always cost more to produce." Cheaper imports would simply meet rising demand while UK farmers will have no incentives to convert, she claimed. "This insistence on low prices will mean lower quality, less development and less innovation in an industry which is, after all, still in its infancy." {{NEWS }}