from Richard Thompson, chairman, Organic Farmers & Growers

Sir; “Well said” to Patrick Holden (‘Price is key to organic’, The Grocer, November 8, p12) in standing up for organic farmers and growers in their dealings with the supermarkets.

While it is great news that retail sales of organic products have reached £1bn a year - and as the sellers of 80% of this, the supermarkets really should be applauded for their role - it is a real concern that unviable prices are, meanwhile, threatening to undermine the home-produced share of this market. While I’m not qualified
to tell supermarkets how to run their businesses, it seems odd to discount produce which consumers recognise as high value and worth a premium.

From the production end, it simply costs more to produce organic food than conventional.

So without a premium at the farmgate price, the future of organic farming is unviable in the long term.

To assess the impact of current market conditions on UK farmers and growers, Organic Farmers & Growers is doing a large survey of them.

This aims to find out how many intend staying in or getting out; what are the main factors affecting organic farmers and their business futures; how they see the supply chain needing to develop for a more sustainable future; and what they want from government policy to help maximise the home-grown share of the impressive organic market.

The results will be published in early 2004.