Direct action on climate change

Organic September, the month-long celebration of all things organic, is well under way. There’s never been a better moment to shout about the role organic agriculture has to play in mitigating climate change. Here’s how to make the most of it.


Together we can make a world of difference! Soil Association has always been passionate about helping consumers know what organic food is and where they can find it.

Last year, we focused on organic being food as it should be. We went back to basics and de-mystified what organic is, by clearly and concisely communicating all the benefits of organic food and farming.

In short, organic always means fewer pesticides, no artificial colours or preservatives, always free range, no routine use of antibiotics, and no GM ingredients.

While the goal of Organic September remains to grow the organic market, this year’s campaign is also acting as a springboard for a wider change, one that sees the act of buying organic as the first step in a bigger movement striving towards more sustainable living.

We want customers to know that organic is an easy and sustainable change everyone can make that can make a huge difference in the fight against the climate crisis. Every item that goes into our shopping baskets has an impact on the planet, from the food we eat, to the beauty products we use and the clothes we wear.

Organic can feed the planet sustainably and this September we’re showing how choosing organic is a simple but powerful form of direct action.

Reuben Chesters, MD of BOOM Award-winning Glasgow retailer, Locavore, says: “Organic’s always been a key focus for us. It’s better for soil health, it’s better for climate change, it’s helping local farmers. So you’re not just buying organic food, you’re buying into a whole different way of doing things.”

This year’s campaign is offering shops the chance to join the dots for customers, so that they can make the connection between their shopping baskets and the future of the planet.

The organic sector

Organic September has been the flagship campaign for the Soil Association for over a decade. It’s our yearly opportunity to showcase the amazing farmers, producers and businesses that produce organic. It’s not just food and drink, either. Organic beauty and wellbeing is a booming market, while organic textiles are increasingly popular as the hugely damaging impact of the fashion industry becomes better known.

It is an exciting time for the organic sector. As we reported in our annual Organic Market Report, the market hit a record high last year of £2.33bn, and we project that its value will hit £2.5bn by 2020. Around £45m is now spent on organic every single week in the UK.

Independent retailers continue to lead the way, seeing sales increasing by 6.2%, buoyed by healthy and hyper-local shopping habits and wider organic ranges from wholesalers.

Market growth only tells one side of the story, though. It is also an exciting time for organic because sustainability and the climate crisis are now so high on the political agenda and in the public consciousness.

Organic is a real, proven example of what sustainable, nature-friendly farming can look like. Organic can tackle the threats of climate change, biodiversity decline and soil degradation, while at the same time producing healthy, nutritious and plentiful food for people to enjoy.

What’s on this September

Organic September gives retailers large and small the chance to celebrate the organic produce that they offer, while consumers can try some of the brilliant products now on the market and hear about the positive impact organic is having on the planet.

We are running a digital campaign throughout the month, so the reasons for buying organic will be front of mind for consumers. Please take part if you can and remember to use the hashtag #OrganicSeptember so that we can share your displays, tastings, stories or promotions with our audiences.

While the major supermarkets will have discounts and other offers throughout the month, for many independent retailers Organic September Saturday (September 14) is the highlight of the calendar. This is the chance for independents to showcase what they have to offer by showing they are the experts in organic, with a unique understanding of their local area and customers’ needs.

Organic Beauty and Wellbeing Week (9-14) has been seeing events including panel discussions, workshops, demos and a pop-up shop.

We’re also talking more about organic textiles, especially cotton. The damaging impact of the fashion industry is climbing the sustainability agenda as people look to reduce their impact beyond what they eat and how they travel. One analysis found that organic cotton production uses up to 91% less water than non-organic. We’re talking about this and other impacts throughout September.

What you can do this September

There is a huge amount that retailers can do during Organic September to celebrate organic and increase footfall and sales. Many opt to centre things around Organic September Saturday when they can host talks or demonstrations for showcasing products, whether that is a cookery demonstration or inviting a supplier or producer in to talk about the process, challenge and opportunities of being organic. What better way of showing the environmental credentials of organic production than hosting a talk from an organic producer?

Many retailers also choose to run promotions, competitions or create in-store/window displays throughout the month, giving staff the opportunity to go all-out and really make the most of the campaign. The first step is to register, order your free samples and point of sale kit at www.soilassociation.org/indies, so that shoppers can find you and any events that you are running. Our website is often the first-place people go when looking for information on Organic September, so make sure you’re included!

One of the simplest things that independent retailers can do is to offer samples of some of the organic products they stock. The best way to get someone to buy something is if they have tried it and know it is good! You can find a form on our website where you can order free samples from organic brands.

The Tree of Life buying guide is making a return this year. This gives information on the market, including trends and insight, as well as things you can get involved with. The guide also makes choosing the right organic ranges easy by bringing together all the best-selling organic brands and products across key categories in one easy to access place.

Soil Association is also providing point of sale packs for all retailers, digital assets and building an online hub that is the central campaign point for events, offers, organic stories, recipes, blogs and competitions, so keep checking in and take what you need. We also have new placards and posters with new campaign branding that celebrates the benefits of organic, as well as leaving space for you to include bespoke messages for your customers.

Organic September is the time of year where the whole industry comes together to celebrate the amazing things we do and the difference we are making to the environment and to wildlife, so there’s never been a better time to get involved with organic and shout about all the amazing things you do.

www.soilassociation.org/indies

Alison Muirhead is Business Development Manager for Soil Association Certification

Read more articles from our latest issue...