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Why is Organic Meat More Expensive?

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 17 Apr 2012 | comments*Discuss
Meat Organic Produce Local Farm Shop

Organic produce has seen a rapid increase in popularity in recent years. The ‘yoghurt knitting, hair shirt wearing’ connotations have come a long way since Prince Charles first supported organic farming back in the late nineteen eighties.

Thanks to the more recent raised awareness of how battery chickens are kept and how cheap meat is produced, choosing organic is no longer seen as option for people with more money than sense.

Many consumers are now keen to make sure they play their part is buying responsibly – carbon footprints, ethical produce and buying locally have taken over from property prices as the topic of conversation at the dinner party table.

More People are Choosing Organic

The UK Soil Association has reported a 22% increase in shoppers buying some organic products from 2006 to 2007. Nowadays, over one in four Britons regularly eats some organic products, with around one in ten buying organic occasionally.

When people who did not buy organic products (food products such as meat, vegetables and eggs, as opposed to cleaning or household products), the key issue for not choosing organic was the price. The fact that organic food is more expensive than ‘mass produced’ food was, until recently, a major down side and indeed it continues to be for families whereby the cost of their shopping is the deciding factor.

However, some supermarkets are being criticised for ‘cashing in’ on the current, hopefully long term, trend for traceable, responsible food and are putting their prices up on these items to appeal to the less price conscious shopper who feels like they are doing their bit if they buy organic.

Happier Animals

The reasons that organic meat is more expensive than mass produced produce is that there are a number of greater cost associated with giving the animals a better quality of life. A key issue is that these animals need more space to live and roam, so the farms cannot pack in so many animals into the same space.

Also, their food is more expensive as it is better quality. There are additional costs associated with transportation and storage because there is not the same country-wide distribution currently for organic meat.

Buy Local

The additional transportation costs associated with buying organic meat from your supermarket can be avoided if consumers buy their meat (and vegetables) locally. The number of organic box schemes is increasing steadily. This often brings other benefits too – the boxes sometimes come with unusual cuts or types of vegetables, with the supplier usually full of great advice on how to use them.

This means you get new recipe ideas and can utilise perhaps cheaper cuts of meat. In turn, the cost of organic produce is reduced through a shorter transport chain and more of your money is going direct to the farmer.

Many supermarkets are trying to get involved in local sourcing, with the Co Op, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose being recognised for their positive aims. However, while is it certainly better to buy organic meat from your supermarket than mass produced meat, it is even better to get to know your local box scheme provider (google for box schemes in your area) and buy directly from your nearest farm shop.

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