Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy
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Cook Organic not the Planet Campaign

Escalating Oil Prices Mean Organic Food Will Soon Be Cheaper than Chemical & Energy Intensive Industrial Food

Organic food to be cheaper than other produce Organic food could become cheaper than other produce as a result of the rising cost of oil, according to a report.

 By Graham Tibbetts 02 Sep 2008

Read the full study here


It is currently regarded as a luxury purchase by shoppers, who have been forced to turn to lower cost, intensively-farmed produce by the economic downturn.

But a study suggests that the price of oil could soon make cereal crops grown with fertilisers more expensive than those produced more naturally.

Industrial farming relies on fossil fuels to mine, manufacture and transport fertilisers which replace nutrients in the soil.

Organic farming, however, improves soil fertility through crop rotations and is less affected by oil prices.

With oil predicted to reach $200 a barrel within five to 10 years, the profit margin on organic wheat, barley and oil seed rape would be as much as £411.

This compares with up to £348 for the same crops produced by non-organic methods, according to the study by Andersons, the farm business consultants.

Peter Melchett, policy director of the Soil Association which promotes organic farming, said: "This study suggests that as oil inevitably becomes scarcer and costs more, economic forces will increasingly favour organic farming.

"Organic systems are not perfect, but they do use less energy, generally emit fewer greenhouse gases, can sequester carbon in the soil, provide more jobs and support more wildlife. This report suggests they could also offer a more secure long-term financial future for the UK's farmers."

Organic farming is backed by Prince Charles, who has one on his Highgrove estate.

The report comes a week after organic food sales were reported to have dropped by 20 per cent in the past eight months to £81 million in August.

Charles Bourns, chairman of the NFU's poultry board, said: "I was talking to someone in the NFU and they were saying it's happening in beef and everywhere, because at the end of the day it's a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have."

Read the full study here

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