Iceland invests £9 million in organics

Iceland has announced it is investing £1 million in a partnership with the National Trust, and a further £8 million to move entire ranges of produce to organic status at no extra cost.

The move, which will increase organic acreage in the UK, is part of the company’s strategy of bringing organics to a mass market for the first time.

Iceland has pledged £1 million in support to the National Trust’s existing ‘whole farm planning’ programme. This will help the charity’s tenant farmers develop environmentally-friendly farming practices, including potentially conversion to organic practices. The effect of the donation will be enhanced by the fact that, for every pound donated, a further £5 to £7 could be added from European, Government or Lottery grants.

Iceland is also set to reduce margins on organic food by £8 million. This means the company will be selling organic food at the same price as supermarket own-label brands, starting this year with its range of frozen vegetables.

Martin Drury, director general of the National Trust, says: “We warmly welcome Iceland’s £1 million investment in our existing programme to help farmers diversify and develop environmentally responsible farming. Farming, especially in upland areas, is essential to the conservation of the rural landscape. This money will be a huge help to the Trust’s work in partnership with our hard pressed farmers.”

Demand for organic food is growing, research commissioned by Iceland showed 77% of people would buy more organic food if it cost the same as ordinary food, and 76% would buy it if they knew it was better for the environment.

Despite its popularity, just 3% of British agricultural land is organic, while the market is predicted to grow by 40% per year for the next five years. Currently, 70% of all organic food sold in British supermarkets comes from overseas.

To overcome the short-term difficulties with finding high volumes of organic supply, Iceland will be sourcing 80% of its frozen vegetables from overseas – mainly the US and Europe.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie