Consumption of organic meat in the UK has also grown more than any other country, recording a 17% growth since 2012.

UK customers bought almost twice as much organic meat in 2016 (84,000t) compared with 2012 (44,200t).

Volume consumption has continued steadily on the upward trend for years in between.

Italy recorded second biggest growth

The research carried out by Euromonitor shows France is the second largest European market, consuming 81,700t last year,

This was followed by Germany which had a much more modest growth over the four-year period, increasing from 33,900t to 44,100t.

Spain and Italy consumed 29,500t and 27,9000t, respectively. In terms of market growth, Italy came second to the UK, increasing by over 10%, while France recorded a 7% market growth.

The research into fresh food found that global demand increased by almost 3% in volume terms in 2016, keeping in line with average growth in the market over the past five years.

Health trend to continue

Anastasia Alieva, head of fresh food at Euromonitor, said the increasing health trend is expected to continue and be the main threat to meat over the coming years.

“The concept of ‘clean label’, natural and organic is spreading and thanks to the increasing healthy eating trend, the demand for organic meat increased during the 2011–2016 review period, despite high unit prices compared to standard meat.

“This trend is likely to encourage people, especially the health-conscious young generation, to eat more vegetables and reduce consumption of meat products or even replace them with pulses that are thought to be healthier due to low/zero fat,” she said.

Alieva added: “Demand for halal meat, an important feature of life across Muslim communities, is also growing in the UK where Muslims make up an important minority of the population.”

Separate research last week revealed fresh food drove the growth in the grocery sector last year, accounting for €1.6bn, or 38%, of total growth in the sector.

Read more

Over 90% of Irish shoppers buy organic at least once a week

Number of organic suckler herds up 70%

Irish organic sector among fastest-growing in the world