Wal-Mart Asda increases sales of organic products by 25% in 2008
According to the Soil Association’s 2009 Organic Market report, Wal-Mart’s UK subsidiary, Asda increased its sales of organic products by 25% in 2008, one of two leading multiple retailers to achieve double-digit growth. It consolidated its position as the fourth-largest retailer of organic food and drink, increasing its share of the market from 8% to around 10% and hopes to secure a 15% market share by the end of 2009. Asda’s biggest success was in sales of organic fruit and vegetables, which increased by 60% after the decision was taken to abandon a separate organic section and integrate produce with the non-organic equivalent. A similar process of integration is planned for processed products in 2009. Sales of organic meat, cereals and bakery products increased by 25%, 16% and 12% respectively. The only category to disappoint was fish, where sales fell by 14%. According to the report, “Asda made welcome progress on UK sourcing in 2008, an area where it has been lagging behind other retailers.” It sold its first crop of UK-produced organic apples and bought 20% of its organic beef from UK producers after importing all its supplies in 2007. Around half its organic soft fruit and half its organic vegetables were grown in the UK in 2008, including 37% of onions, 46% of potatoes and 88% of carrots. Despite this success over 2008 as a whole, sales have fallen back since reaching a peak in the summer. “People are watching every penny they spend,” says Julian Walker-Palin, Head of Corporate Policy for Sustainability and Ethics. “Our customers still want products with provenance but some are starting to struggle with the price premium that is generally attached to organic products. We need as much support as possible from the organic industry to communicate the benefits of organic to our customer base.”
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