Sales of organic goods plummeted in 2009 by 12.9% as the sector felt the force of consumers tightening their belts.

Organic sales in supermarkets fell by 12.2%, according to the Organic Market Report 2010, while vegetable boxes delivered to homes saw a drop of almost 10%.

Bread and bakery sales collapsed by almost 40%, while meat sales were also badly hit.

Organic beef sales fell 30%, with lamb down 10% and poultry down by almost a third.

"It has been a tough year for the organic market,” said Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett. “But we have seen the businesses that are most committed to communicating the many real benefits of organic food and farming to the public perform best.”

He added: “Confidence is now returning, and with the growing recognition of the need for environmentally sustainable production systems that are less reliant on fossil fuels, we are confident that the organic market, having weathered the recession, will return to growth."

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Saturday Essay: Reports of organic’s death are exaggerated (3 April 2010)
Second Opinion: Organic must spring into action (27 March 2010)