Availability down the organic aisles is worse than anywhere else in store, according to ECR UK research revealed exclusively to The Grocer.

A survey of 200 stores revealed availability levels of just 88.8% compared with 96% for non-organic foods.

It also showed a huge variation in levels within the category, with availability of organic strawberries standing at a woeful 48.1% . White potatoes were the best performer overall - with 98.9% availability."

IGD, which manages ECR UK, blamed the low figures partly on the growing popularity of organic food.

"We would expect a slightly lower level on availability for organic rather than conventional produce, due to strong customer demand and supply restrictions of some categories," said Stewart Samuel, senior business analyst at IGD, which manages ECR UK.

"Nevertheless, IGD predicts the market for organic foods to rise 50% to £2.4bn by 2011, so these results suggest potential for improvement, and that better availability can reap significant share of wallet."

Last month, The Grocer reported that supply problems were hampering availability, leading to a sharp slow-down in growth in the organic sector (16 June, p6).

The ECR UK survey, carried out in May, showed average industry availability of 96%. Overall, 12 products achieved 100% availability including medium cauliflowers, own-label strawberry jam and Heinz tomato soup. The best-performing category was beers, wines & spirits, while beer was the best performing sub-category, with 98.5% availability.

Wednesday was the best-performing day of the week, with 97.1%, and the north of England was the best-performing area, at 97.2%.

The figures were the first covering organics since ECR UK changed its availability survey to make it more reflective of modern shopping baskets.

The new-style survey also includes more fresh and chilled products and Fairtrade goods. It will now take place six times per year, rather than quarterly.