The Soil Association has formed an Organic Trade Group representing organic businesses from a range of industries, including clothing and textiles, to communicate the benefits and developments of the organic sector to trade and consumers alike.

The platform, thought to be the first open membership group in the UK to represent organic firms, aims to drive sales, maintain the integrity of organic values and principles, and uphold standards.

It will share 'best practice' and work from a consistent set of commercial objectives and messages that will benefit the members, the environment, farmers, manufacturers, retailers and the wider public.  

The industry-led trade group will be open to all organic businesses, including Soil Association licensees and other certification body licensees.

It will be led by an advisory committee and chaired by an industry representative - and seeks buy-in from all sectors, as well as all accreditation bodies, retailers, manufacturers, farmers and growers.
 
Helen Taylor, marketing director for the Soil Association said: "The Soil Association is proud to be providing this opportunity for businesses to be able to speak with one collective voice, to help grow the organic market, to communicate the benefits of organic production and advance organic standards, whilst ensuring the public's trust in organic products is maintained."

The UK organic market grew by 30% in 2005, a three-fold rise on the previous year to total almost GBP1.6bn in sales. Over 35 fashion and textiles companies are now licensed by the Soil Association.
 
Textile manufacturers and retailers were among 90 businesses who attended the group's first meeting last week. The next Organic Trade Group Committee meeting will take place in early September.