Sustain is launching the UK's first generic organic ad campaign next year in a bid to inject fresh growth into the ailing category.

The environmental group is currently leading a cross-industry initiative to raise £500,000 from UK organic companies to fund the campaign. It will apply to the EU for match funding in October.

If successful, it plans to launch the £1m campaign in autumn 2010.

Rachel's, Organic Farm Foods, Omsco, Organix and Alara Foods are among the companies to have signed up. The Soil Association and the Organic Trade Board have also lent their support. Sustain said it hoped to generate more support in the wake of a presentation to selected businesses last week.

The intention was to run the campaign for three years and generate volume growth of up to 15% each year, it said. Such growth would provide a much needed boost to the category. Take-home sales of organic food and drink slumped 10.9% to £1.01bn in the year to May [TNS].

"Doing it now, during the recession, is vital as we must make sure people don't trade down from organic," said project co-ordinator Catherine Fookes. "We need to speak with a unified voice to sort out the issue of confusion."

Although it is hoping for £1m, Sustain has developed four campaign models, depending on whether its total fund reaches £250,000, £500,000, £1m or £1.5m.

If it raised a smaller amount, it would run a PR and web-based campaign, if a larger amount, it would add magazine, poster and TV campaigns to the mix.