"It seems bizarre that this hasn't happened before," says Ella Heeks, ethics director at Abel & Cole and vice chair of the newly formed Organic Trade Board (OTB). And she's right. The UK organic industry has been pretty much the only sector without a trade body - until now.

The OTB came about at the suggestion of the Soil Association, which called a meeting with the bosses of organic businesses and other certifiers last summer. The idea was to form a trade group similar to the ones successfully operating in the United States and Germany. Last month the UK version made its first public appearance at the Annual UK Organics Summit. Its aim: to protect and promote organic trade.

"Our mission is to help make the case for organic and mobilise ourselves as businesses," says Heeks. "Behind every pound spent on organic is a decision that connects to health and concern for the environment, and about how you want your food to be produced. It's really important we don't take that for granted."

Research from the Dunnhumby Academy of Consumer Research showed consumers were often confused about why they bought organic. And while it's unlikely the message will ever be as simple as, say, Fairtrade, a more focused approach has been welcomed.

"Above all else it's an organisation of members who want to contribute - a reciprocal organisation for an industry working together," adds Heeks. "We want to promote organic and foster good connections between businesses to complement the work the Soil Association does. There are people who aren't sure what organic is all about, and it's our job to make the case."