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Soil Association reveals growth in organic sales

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organic salesTHE SOIL Association’s annual Organic Market Report has revealed that the organic sector has seen growth of 2.8% in 2013: the first time the organic market has seen annual growth since 2008.

Organic sales are growing slightly ahead of the overall grocery sales for 2013, which finished the year at around +2.1%. The 2014 Organic Market Report shows that the organic market is now worth £1.79billion. Those brands that carry the Soil Association logo have had an even stronger 2013, with growth of more than 5%.

And it seems this trend is set to continue in 2014, with organic sales for the first four weeks of the year seeing growth of +2.5% – way outperforming overall grocery sales, which were down -3.2%. Independent retailers have led the way with growth of almost 7% (6.9%) to almost £10million per week, indicating that more consumers are choosing to shop in smaller stores where they know they will find a wider choice of organic products. Online sales of organic continue to grow strongly with Ocado seeing an increase in sales of 10.4%. Supermarkets have seen some growth in the past year, with overall sales up 1.2%. However, Sainsbury’s – the country’s biggest organic retailer with 29% market share – saw a 7% increase in sales of its own-label organic products, closely followed by Waitrose who saw its organic sales increase by 6.5% – indicating other supermarkets are yet to capitalise on increasing consumer demand for organic.

Household names, such as Yeo Valley Organic, Green & Blacks and Rachel’s Organic are the most popular organic brands in supermarkets. Also seeing growth throughout 2013 are mail-order, home delivery and veg box schemes – up 11% on last year, with leading brands Abel & Cole and Riverford seeing a combined increase in sales of 17.9%.

The organic food market appears to be recovering across many different sectors, with meat, fish and poultry (+2.2%), vegetables (+3.4%) and dairy (+4.4%) all seeing positive growth throughout the year. This positive outlook is also reflected in consumer attitudes to organic and bodes well for the next 12 months, with 45% of organic consumers intending to buy more organic fruit and veg in the year ahead and 22% intending to buy more organic dairy in 2014.

Organic baby food continues to be a popular choice, with more than 50% of spending on baby food being organic. Four out of five households now buy organic produce, with shoppers under 34 stating they are willing to spend the most on organic products. The main reasons for choosing organic were it contains fewer chemicals and pesticides(37%), it’s natural and unprocessed (34%) and it’s healthier for me and my family (33%) – indicating a slight change in priorities for consumers from 2013, where it’s healthier for me and my family was the main reason for consumers choosing organic.

Speaking about the report, Rob Sexton, CEO of Soil Association Certification said; “To see the organic market showing such strong signs of growth, particularly when grocery sales as a whole are slowing, shows just how much potential there is in the organic sector. Both the growth in the organic market and the accelerating growth of products carrying the Soil Association logo further highlight the growing public demand for organic and food logos that they can trust. The message to supermarkets and other retailers and organic businesses is clear: if you make organic goods available and promote them well, consumers will respond by continuing to purchase the products they have confidence in.

“In addition research has shown that organic shoppers expect to buy more organic products this year than last so we have reason to be positive about the outlook for organic in 2014 and beyond. Now, the priority needs to be ensuring a greater choice of organic produce on shelves.”

Despite the continued demand from UK consumers, figures from Defra report that producer and livestock numbers and the UK’s organic land area decreased in the year to December 2012. The numbers of organic producers and processors also fell by 6.3% to 6,487. Currently around 3.5% (606,000 hectares) of the agricultural land area in the UK is organic.

Rob Sexton continued, “2013 has seen a decline in the amount of agricultural land in the UK that is organic and we know that many farmers are concerned about the profitability of organic. We have strong evidence to show that organic farming systems are at least as profitable as non-organic and we know that demand for organic is increasing amongst consumers. A serious injection of producer confidence is needed, in the shape of increased commitment from retailers and policy makers to help support existing organic farmers and grow the market in future, ensuring organic supply can meet increasing consumer demand.”

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Community

Bluestone Foundation makes waves in west Wales communities

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THE BLUESTONE FOUNDATION, the charitable arm of Bluestone National Park Resort, is continuing to make a positive impact on the people and communities of West Wales through its latest round of events and funding totalling £17,500

The Foundation has recently completed a successful round of grant allocations through its Community Fund and is gearing up for its next fundraising event in August at the Blue Lagoon Water Park. It has supported local groups with more than £250,000 since it was launched in 2010.

The Bluestone Foundation offers two avenues of support: the Community Events and the Community Fund. The Community Events at the Blue Lagoon raise funds and awareness for local charities.

This year, the Foundation has already hosted events for Get the Boys a Lift and VC Gallery, with upcoming events supporting Paul Sartori and Team Cruising Free in August and Sammy Sized Gap in October.

Each event is hosted by a local charitable organisation and local residents will be able to buy tickets. All of the proceeds are directed into the community, with 75% of funds going to a local charitable organisation and 25% through the Bluestone Foundation.

Each event will mean up to 600 local community members can enjoy our water park’s facilities while raising money directly for local good causes. On Tuesday 27th August, Paul Sartori Hospice at Home and Team Cruising Free will benefit from the fundraising created through ticket sales.

“We are thrilled to see the positive impact our Community Events have on local organisations,” said Marten Lewis at the Bluestone Foundation. “The Blue Lagoon provides a unique and enjoyable setting for fundraising, and we are grateful for the community’s support.”

The Community Fund, which runs in three rounds this year, provides financial assistance to projects focused on economic, social, and environmental initiatives. The Foundation recently allocated approximately £7,500 to three projects in its first round of funding and is currently reviewing applications for its second round which closes in July. A third round of funding will close on 17 October.

Among those to have benefited in the first round are the South Ridgeway Community Association in Manorbier to help develop a community garden and allotments; The Tenby Project, to support weekly sessions with a trained nutritionist on healthy eating for adults with learning difficulties; and Transition Bro Gwaun in Fishguard, to host community energy engagement events.

The Foundation is inviting the community to join them at their next Blue Lagoon event on August 27th, where they will be raising funds for Cruising Free and Paul Sartori. Tickets can be purchased at  Blue Lagoon event in support of Team Cruising Free Tickets, Tue 27 Aug 2024 at 18:30 | Eventbrite

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Community

‘No second homes’ call for Saundersfoot estate plans

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A SCHEME by one of the UK’s largest housebuilders to site 72 homes, 25 of them affordable, on the outskirts of a Pembrokeshire village is not expected to have a no second homes condition, despite a plea by the local community council.

Back in 2022, Persimmon Homes applied to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park for the scheme on a 2.26 hectare area of land adjoining the northernmost houses of a long-established Sandyhill Park residential estate, Saundersfoot.

The official application, including 47 open market dwellings, proposes a variety of detached, semi-detached, terraced and apartment properties to create an “attractive and integrated extension to Saundersfoot”.

The application is recommended for delegated approval when it comes before the national park’s July 17 development management committee.

The affordable housing units will be split into four low-cost ownership units and 21 socially rented units, a report for national park planners says; the 35 per cent affordable percentage taking precedent over an affordable housing policy requirement of 50 per cent as it is designated as an allocated site.

As well as the affordable housing element and an open space provision, a financial contribution of £2,000 per open market property, some £94,000, is required by the county council’s highways department to cover the contribution towards Active Travel Routes within the local area (Saundersfoot Harbour to New Hedges).

Local community council Saundersfoot has objected to the scheme on a number of grounds, asking for its refusal, the report says.

The community council also wants a caveat that no property is bought for second-home holiday use.

Reasons of objection include: potentially causing an imbalance of the aesthetics of the remaining green areas of the village; the scheme being dominant, overbearing, and intrusive to existing residents; access and road safety issues; infrastructure, and the effect on local services.

On a potential residency condition, the report says: “With regards to whether or not it is appropriate to apply a planning condition limiting the use of the market houses to C3 primary dwellings only and therefore preventing use as a second home or holiday let, the authority has undertaken an assessment based on its established methodology.”

It says the assessment “demonstrates that there is not a sufficient justification in this case to impose such a condition,” adding: “Whilst Saundersfoot as a whole has a slightly higher percentage of second homes and holiday lets than was anticipated when the LDP2 was developed, the majority of detached properties of the estate style type proposed as market dwellings on this site in Saundersfoot are occupied as primary dwellings.

“It is the flat or apartment-style properties that are more likely to be occupied as a holiday let or second home, however within the development these properties will already be controlled as they are designated as affordable housing.

“There is therefore no need to apply a use class condition to the properties, based on the evidence gathered.”

It is recommended, subject to further updates to be received at the committee meeting, that delegated powers of approval are given to officers, subject to receipt of a Section 106 legal agreement addressing the provision of affordable housing, open space and a financial contribution towards the Active Travel Route.

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Community

Torch Theatre and Port partnership strengthens community engagement

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A TWO-YEAR funding partnership between the Torch Theatre and the Port of Milford Haven is going from strength to strength, providing over 10,000 hours of engaging, creative activities for the community in its first year.

During the past 12 months, the Torch Theatre has welcomed 45 schools and over 5,000 students to workshops, performances and tours of the building expanding young peoples’ knowledge, experiences and aspirations. Over 130 youngsters attended the Youth Theatre, 35 took part in the Summer Schools, 40 adults benefited from Creative Writing courses and 45 members enjoyed participating in the community choir, Torch Voices.

Chief Executive of the Port of Milford Haven, Tom Sawyer, is delighted with how the partnership is developing: “The Torch Theatre is a fantastic arts and culture hub for Pembrokeshire and I’m inspired when I hear how many people they’ve supported over the last year through their vibrant programme of performances, workshops and activities. Everybody should be able to access the arts, it nourishes our hearts and minds, and we’re pleased to see so many people getting on board and embracing what the Torch has to offer.”

Ben Lloyd, CEO at the Torch Theatre, said “We are very grateful for the Port’s support through this successful partnership. It is hugely important to us as it enables us to extend our reach to more people, particularly young people, across our community which we know contributes to feelings of inclusion and wellbeing. This partnership has bolstered our youth and community offer, allowing us to keep activities affordable and accessible for all.”

Throughout 2024, the team at the Torch will be building on the success of last year. The uptake of subsidised youth theatre engagement has increased, educational outreach continues to reach further into the community, their entire Youth Theatre will come together, for the first time in a generation, to present a Main Stage production Wind in the Willows featuring a collaboration with Torch Voices, and their subsidised summer schools are growing in popularity.

P: Chief Executive of the Torch Theatre Ben Lloyd (left) with CEO of the Port of Milford Haven Tom Sawyer (right).

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