This in-depth publication provides the most up-to-date overview of the Canadian organic market, combining consumer research with sales and trade data to provide valuable insight into market size, growth trends and Canadian consumer perceptions.
“Canada’s organic sector remains on its upward trajectory, gaining new market share as consumers across Canada ate and used more organic products than ever before,” said Tia Loftsgard, executive director of the Canada Organic Trade Association. “It is an exciting time to be a part of a sector that shows such promise to bring positive economic, social and environmental change to Canada.”
According to the report:
- Canada’s total organic market (including food and non-food items) is estimated at $5.4 billion, up from $3.5 billion in 2012.
- The organic food and beverage market is estimated at $4.4 billion, up from $2.8 billion in 2012.
- The compound annual growth rate of the total organic market is estimated at 8.7 per cent between 2012 and 2017. Over the same time period, the growth rate for the organic food and beverage market is at an estimated 8.4 per cent.
- As the market has matured, growth rates have slowed but organics continues to capture a greater market share. Between 2012 and 2017, the market share of organic food and beverages sold through mainstream retailers has grown from 1.7 per cent to 2.6 per cent.
- Ontario has the largest organic market, yet British Columbia continues to have higher organic sales per capita.
- Two-thirds of Canadian grocery shoppers are purchasing organics weekly. Albertan’s are most likely to be organic purchasers – 74 per cent are buying organics weekly.
- Currently, Canada tracks 65 organic imports and 17 organic exports – a subset of total organic trade. Tracked Canadian organic imports were valued at $637 million in 2016. Tracked exports are expected to reach $607 million by the end of 2017.
The report combines sales data from the Nielsen Company, consumer data from Ipsos polls, and organic trade data from Statistics Canada. The report is rounded out with secondary research and analysis carried out by the Canada Organic Trade Association, with additional insight and analysis from leading organic experts.
A copy of the report is available for purchase from COTA.
Sessions specific to direct farm marketers are being offered by the Agri-food Management Institute (AMI) in partnership with the Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association.
“This program is designed for Ontario farm business owners and managers who want to elevate their management skills to improve their business performance,” says AMI Executive Director Ashley Honsberger. “We know from our past research that good farm management habits are directly linked to stronger profitability and that continuous learning is the number one habit of Canada’s most successful farm businesses.”
AFMP includes five intensive one-day sessions with farm management specialists who will cover key business concepts and help participants apply these to a case study. At the end of the program, participants will have a completed management action plan for their farm business that’s ready for implementation.
Tuition is $725 plus HST and includes breakfasts and lunches. A second participant from the same operation can register for $450 plus HST. Participants who register by November 10, 2017 receive a 10 per cent early bird tuition discount; program costs are subsidized by AMI. Final registration deadline is November 20.
The direct farm marketer sessions will take place at the Best Western Plus, Milton, on November 30, December 18, January 15, January 29 and February 12, with a weather-related make-up day scheduled for February 26 if needed.
The investment enabled Scotian Gold to expand its facility and to purchase and install two new-to-Atlantic high efficiency production lines.
With the facility expansion and new technology, Scotian Gold expects to grow its sales and demand of premium, Nova Scotia-grown apples, both in Canada and in the Unites States.
"The new facility is an example of Scotian Gold's willingness to invest in the future of our growers, our employees and the apple industry,” said David Parrish, president and CEO of Scotian Gold Cooperative Ltd. “Over the next number of years, the apple volume will increase for varieties such as Honeycrisp, Ambrosia and SweeTango. This facility will have the capability to supply Scotian Gold's expanding markets in a timely and efficient manner."
Scotian Gold Cooperative is the largest apple packing and storage operation in Eastern Canada.
“This resource will help you decide if that new crop is right for your farm at this time,” says Ashley Honsberger, executive director of AMI.
According to Honsberger, farmers are increasingly looking at non-traditional crops to meet new customer preferences, realize higher value per acre, or for crop rotation and other environmental benefits.
The resource was developed in partnership with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), who surveyed members earlier this year to gauge interest in growing new crops, as well as the best method of delivering information.
“We know Ontario farmers are interested in growing new crops, and are looking for timely information on marketing a crop, finding buyers and locating processors,” says Keith Currie, OFA president. “We appreciated providing AMI with industry input on a resource that will ultimately support farm business management and reduce the risk of expanding into a new crop.”
Making a Case for Growing New Crops features five interactive modules that users work through on their own schedule to develop a business case for diversifying their farm. Through a series of videos and worksheets, users can determine whether the crop is an agronomic fit, identify customers and markets, analyze their cost of production and develop a budget. In the end, they will have a personalized and confidential report that includes a business model canvas (a one-page visual business plan) as well as an action plan to share with their team and use to communicate with their advisors and lenders.
“Whatever the reason, taking time to build a business case for growing new crops makes sense,” says Honsberger. “While we encourage farmers to take a new approach, we also want them to really evaluate the opportunity and manage any potential risks associated with growing new crops.”
Of the 402 farmers responding to the online survey about new crops – as part of the Making a Case for Growing News Crops project – about 20 per cent had tried a new crop in the past five years. The main reasons farmers chose to trying something new included: changing markets and emerging opportunities (29 per cent), crop rotation and environmental benefits (24 per cent), and reducing overall risk through diversification (24 per cent). And 27 per cent of farmers said they develop a business plan before beginning a new crop opportunity.
For growers who had not introduced a new crop in the last five years, 7 per cent plan to in the next two years, 49 per cent do not plan to, and 44 per cent were undecided. These results suggest farmers are open to new crop opportunities, but are hesitant and unsure of how successful they may be.
The survey findings also contributed to OFA’s submission for the Bring Home the World: Improving Access to Ontario’s World Foods consultation by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
According to the study, which examined consumer concerns and expectations surrounding food transparency and the overall food system, showed an increase in the number of Canadians who believe the food system is headed in the right direction from 30 per cent in 2016 to 43 per cent this year.
While consumer confidence is increasing, an equal number of Canadians (43 per cent) say they aren’t sure if the food system is on the right track, down from 50 per cent in 2016. These findings are significantly different than the American consumers’ findings from 2016, which showed more definitive opinions with 55 per cent choosing right direction and only 23 per cent saying they were unsure.
The 2017 CCFI Public Trust Research occurred in-the-field in June, asking 1307 Canadians about top life concerns, specifically their level of concern, trust and transparency expectations related to food and how it’s grown. Those polled clearly identified food companies to be the most responsible for providing information about food and how it’s grown. Other food system partners including farmers, government, restaurants and grocery stores also ranked highly as being responsible for transparency.
“Canadians are looking for credible information to make informed decisions about their food,” stated Crystal Mackay, president of CCFI. “This research reinforces that everyone in the Canadian food system, from the farm through to grocery stores and restaurants, should engage in conversations about food.”
Those polled are personally concerned and want more information about specific topics, including food safety, environment and farm animal treatment. Consumers are looking for information on food company websites such as third party audits, track record, practices and policies that demonstrate their values. When studying these elements of transparency, accuracy rose to the top as the most important attribute to Canadians.
Many Canadians are unsure about their food or how it’s grown, but want to learn more. Canadians ranked the rising cost of food and keeping healthy food affordable as their top two life concerns above rising energy costs, healthcare and the economy for the second year in a row.
These findings and other insights are key areas for discussion when leaders from across the entire Canadian food system meet at the CCFI Public Trust Summit in Calgary.
Find out more by reading the full 2017 CCFI Public Trust Research report on www.foodintegrity.ca.
With NAFTA renegotiation talks in full swing, it is a critical time for a conversation on protecting and improving our shared food supply chain. As think tanks and think networks, CAPI and the Wilson Center know the importance of good debate and a robust marketplace for ideas. This short piece, written by Rory McAlpine and Mike Robach, encourages just such debate.
"The contents of the piece represent an opportunity for our two organizations to present to our respective stakeholders on the frontlines of Canada-US economic policy some new thinking on important food safety issues", said Don Buckingham, president and CEO of CAPI. "Food safety is not just about consumer protection, it's about enhancing the competitiveness of the Canada-U.S. agri-food supply chain around the world. A well-functioning food safety regime helps to increase global demand for safe and wholesome North American food products."
"During a period of trade upheaval and fractured supply chains, it is particularly important to bring practical suggestions to the table that will build trade, increase competitiveness and safeguard the protection of consumers," added Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute of the Wilson Center.
The short piece is available here.
That’s according to researchers at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) who have been working with the crop for the past five years and have some very promising results from two years of field trials with three okra varieties.
“We know okra can be grown commercially in southern Ontario and that yields of 20,000 kg per hectare are possible,” said Vineland research scientist Dr. Viliam Zvalo.
Canada imported over six million kilograms of okra in 2015 – an increase of 43 per cent since 2011 – so the market demand for this new crop, popular especially in South and Southeast Asian cuisine, is there.
Zvalo is particularly excited about three additional varieties Vineland has been able to source from East West Seeds from Thailand. The company is a key player in the okra seed market in countries like India, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand where much of the world’s okra is grown.
“We planted some of these varieties in June last year and were amazed by the yield potential,” he said. “I believe they may outperform the varieties we’ve been using so far and we are quite optimistic they’ll do very well here.”
Okra grows well in Canada’s hot summers but less is known about its performance in cooler, wet weather. However, Zvalo believes these new Asian varieties, which are developed for the cooler monsoon season, should perform well in Canada. Also, one variety is slower to mature than others, which means it needs to be harvested only every two or three days.
“Normally okra has to be picked daily to keep it from over-ripening and becoming woody, so this would give growers a bit of a buffer at harvest time,” he said.
Retail support for the new crop has been strong with prices for growers averaging $2.50 – $2.60 per pound. The key to getting into the okra business, though, is knowing the market, believes Zvalo.
“Big retailers are very interested in locally-grown okra, but are unlikely to deal with growers who only grow half an acre,” he said. “And if you’re harvesting and shipping daily, you need to be reasonably close to the market to get the crop there on time and be cost-competitive.”
For those interested in experimenting with okra, Vineland will provide a small quantity of seeds per variety as well as technical assistance related to growing the crop. This lets growers see first-hand how the varieties perform in their particular climate and soil.
According to Zvalo, the crop will grow reasonably well in areas of 2700 – 3300 crop heat units and growers in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Manitoba are trialing all six of the varieties this year.
Vineland has been conducting okra research on optimal plant spacing, fertilization, use of covers in early spring as well as the impact on yield potential of direct seeding versus transplanting. More information is at http://vinelandresearch.com/program/feeding-diversity-bringing-world-crops-market.
“I think the okra story is definitely more promising today than it was just a few years ago,” Zvalo said.
Vineland’s okra research is funded in part by Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative, through the AgriInnovation Program.
The announcement was made following the first meeting between Federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay and B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham.
Government officials are working together to quickly assess the extraordinary costs farmers are incurring and what additional assistance may be required to recover and return to production following the wildfires.
The types of costs under consideration include:
- Costs related to ensuring animal health and safety.
- Feed, shelter and transportation costs.
- Costs to re-establish perennial crop and pasture production damaged by fire.
Participants included primary producers, processors, retailers, policy makers and academics – all putting their heads together to come up with new solutions to what is becoming a persistent problem; how do you attract and retain farm workers?
Marc Smith, retired Assistant Director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva and Senior Extension Associate opened the discussion with an international perspective on shared agricultural labour challenges among the United States and Canada.
Smith started off by identifying several trends in the U.S. agricultural labour climate:
• Regardless of government policy, people seeking employment in agriculture will be scarce.
• Economic and other motivations to develop and adopt labour-saving technologies are growing.
• Political and economic pressures will force minimal wages higher in many states.
• Perception of agriculture as an unattractive field for careers is a perennial challenge.
The consequences of these U.S. agricultural labour trends has resulted in a 20 per cent decline in available agricultural workers between 2002-14; an annual loss of US $3.1B to fruit and vegetable production due to labour shortages; and a declining U.S.-born population willing to work on farms.
In Canada the gap between labour demand and the domestic workforce in agriculture has doubled from 30,000 to 59,000 in the past 10 years and projections indicate that by 2025, the Canadian agri-workforce could be short workers for 114,000 jobs. This was a key finding of Labour Market Information (LMI) research by CAHRC entitled Agriculture 2025: How the Sector’s Labour Challenges Will Shape its Future. The LMI research also revealed that Canadian primary agriculture had the highest industry job vacancy rate at seven per cent - higher than any other industry in Canada. This resulted in $1.5-billion in lost sales.
Poor worker compensation is often cited as the primary reason for low interest in working on farms. However, Smith notes that agricultural wages in the U.S. have gone up faster than any other sector in the past 10 years with the median wage being $13.23/hr ($17.76 Cdn) as of April 2017. In Canada, farm hourly rates averaged $17.50/hr in 2016.
Smith advocates that wages alone are not the issue but rather what is needed is a coordinated effort to improve labour policy, on-farm workforce needs, and farm practices.
Smith suggests that farmers need to develop realistic policies that attract and retain workers. Investment in leadership and management capacity within the agricultural industry is also needed to encourage innovation, research and development for long-term solutions to the already critical agricultural workforce.
It is not enough to simply pay required wages and comply with regulations. Employee compensation should also include how workers are treated and have their needs accommodated such as providing housing, access to the internet, transportation, communications in their own language, offering English as a second language training, job training, flexible hours, and creating a sense of community. It is important to make workers feel welcomed, valued and confident.
Finally, modifying farm practices to reduce the need for labour is another way to reduce on-farm workforce pressures. This may include adopting new technology that negates the need for human workers, changing crop mixes to less labour intensive commodities, or moving production operations to streamline efficiency.
To help attract and retain a motivated workforce, CAHRC has developed several tools to help farm managers including: AgriSkills – customizable and commodity specific on-farm training programs; Agri HR Toolkit – an online resource guide and templates to address the HR needs of any business; and Agri Pathways – promoting careers in agriculture. For more information on these and other CAHRC offerings visit www.cahrc-ccrha.ca.
In the meantime, Smith says producers should champion farmers that are doing a great job with their workers and get the word out that agriculture is a rewarding and fulfilling career with a strong future.
"Restaurants Canada supports reasonable minimum wage increases that ensure our employees keep up with the cost of living, are announced well in advance to give businesses time to adjust, and do not trigger large menu price increases or a reduction in entry-level employment," said von Schellwitz. "We're concerned when governments move too quickly and at the wrong time, as it hurts businesses, customers and employees."
The association doesn't want to see a repeat of the job losses in Alberta, where an arbitrary push for a $15 minimum wage cost more than 4,700 hospitality industry jobs in 2016 alone, and where the youth unemployment rate spiked to over 14 per cent.
Our members are equally concerned by the Ontario government's about-face on minimum wage policy, moving abruptly from linking minimum wage increases to the cost of living, to pushing for a $15 minimum wage in just 18 months.
This decision, combined with other labour reforms, is putting 187,000 jobs at risk, 17,300 in the restaurant and hotel industries alone. It will also double inflation, increase household costs for consumer goods and services by $1,300 a year, and increase deficits for all levels of government.
"Restaurants Canada is pleased that the BC government is maintaining the previously-announced 2017 minimum wage increases that small businesses have been preparing for. We look forward to working with the new government and Fair Wages Commission on future minimum wage increases that raise wages without costing entry-level employment opportunities," concluded von Schellwitz.
These organizations are working together to ensure that there are new individuals who will have the interest, skills and abilities to further develop and grow this sector of Ontario’s agri-food
Sponsor donations allow the OPVG and the OF&VPA to offer up to five bursaries to students this fall. These include bursaries in memory of former OPVG directors Jim Whitson and Ken Epp. Note that the Jim Whitson bursary is awarded to a student attending Ridgetown College. The award in memory of Ken Epp receives an additional $1,000 from the fund established in his name by the OPVG. Applicants must be a resident of Ontario and registered as a full-time student at any college or university entering the second, third, fourth or post graduate year of study which relates in some aspect to the processing vegetable industry.
If you require further information regarding the bursaries, please contact:
Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers at 519-681-1875.
Today, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, announced that the CFIA will lead two projects worth $500,000 that use new DNA-based technologies to reduce the quarantine testing time, helping to boost trade and economic competitiveness in the $240 million Canadian fruit tree industry.
"Together with provincial partners and industry, our government is making the investments in innovative science that enables agriculture to be a leading growth sector of Canada's economy. Together we can help meet the world's growing demand for high-quality, sustainable food and help grow our middle class," Minister MacAulay, said.
The first project will dramatically shorten the testing period of seeds, cuttings and bulbs imported into Canada to grow new varieties of plants. With this funding, scientists will use DNA technology to test for all viruses associated with imported plants to get an early indication of any plant diseases present. This approach could reduce the quarantine testing time by up to two and a half years.
The second project streamlines the testing of strawberry plants. Traditionally, multiple tests for viruses are required before exporting strawberry plants to foreign markets. This project will test for multiple viruses in one single test, dramatically reducing the time and cost to get plants to market.
Funding for these projects is provided through a partnership between the CFIA, Genome British Columbia, Summerland Varieties Corporation, Phyto Diagnostics, the British Columbia Cherry Association, and Vineland Research and Innovations Centre.
"Canadian import/export markets will be stronger and more competitive because of these genomics-based tools. Early detection of pathogens and viruses is a vital outcome of genomics and it is being applied across many key economic sectors." Dr. Catalina Lopez-Correa, Chief Scientific Officer and Vice President, Genome British Columbia said.
Council chair Leo Broderick questions the science behind Innate generation 2 potatoes, and added P.E.I. would be better off staying away from the controversy surrounding genetically modified food. He noted P.E.I. is already attracting attention as a producer of genetically modified salmon. READ MORE
“Today’s session marks the continuation of the important, in-depth conversation we are having about A Food Policy for Canada,” he said. “The decisions we make as a government, and as individuals, about food have a major impact on not only our health and well-being, but on our environment, our communities, and our economy. Conversations like the one we are having today are vital to ensuring the food choices we make are the right ones, while ensuring we meet the growing world demand for high quality foods produced by our farmers and ranchers.”
The session, which includes stakeholders, Indigenous representatives, experts, and key policy makers, is the first in a series being held across the country over the next two months.
Public consultations on A Food Policy for Canada were launched on May 29, 2017, via an online survey. Due to a strong response from across the country, the comment period for the online survey was recently extended to August 31, 2017. A Food Policy Summit also took place in June that brought together more than 250 participants with diverse expertise and experience to discuss a broad range of food-related issues, related to:
- increasing access to affordable food;
- improving health and food safety;
- conserving our soil, water, and air; and
- growing more high-quality food.
The assessment will include three focus groups from across PEI who will discuss and rank various risks associated with agricultural production for a range of commodities.
"We are proud to partner with the PEIFA to help Island farmers better understand and mitigate the risks they face on their operations,” said Lawrence MacAuley, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “We’re helping farmers access the information and tools they need to continue to grow and strengthen our economy."
"The [PEIFA] is appreciative of the government’s commitment to working with us on this important initiative,” said David Mol, president of the PEI Federation of Agriculture. “This work will assist the farming community on PEI to proactively get ahead of our collective risks and built toward a stronger future for our industry."
Ontario’s three provincial farm organizations came together to pen a joint letter to the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission in support of the issues raised by the Processing Vegetable Growers’ Alliance.
“The Alliance represents farmers who grow 14 different types of processing vegetables in the province who are concerned about proposed changes to Regulation 441 that would dramatically reduce grassroots representation for our sector,” said Francis Dobbelaar, chair of the Processing Vegetable Growers’ Alliance. “We are truly grateful for the tremendous support shown to our group by these three leading organizations.”
Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, the National Farmers Union – Ontario, and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture represent the majority of Ontario farmers, including the approximately 400 processing vegetable growers. In their letter to the commission, which discussed proposed changes to Regulation 441/400, the groups call on the commission to consult directly with processing vegetable growers regarding any proposed governance changes that would impact the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers organization.
“The goal of the Alliance is to restore a fully grower elected OPVG board with the authority to negotiate prices, terms, conditions and contracts for Ontario’s processing vegetable growers,” said Dobbelaar. “We are anxious to get on with the innovative plans we had in the works before the commission dismissed the OPVG board and senior staff – including establishing industry advisory and market development committees. We welcome innovation and change that will help strengthen and sustain our industry with profitability for both growers and processors.”
July 28, 2017, North Carolina - Laura Lengnick is a big thinker on agriculture and the environment. She has been guided in her work by the understanding that the problems generated by the U.S. industrial food system have been as significant as its ability to produce vast quantities of food. As she sees it, it’s not enough to produce food if there’s not a reckoning of costs and benefits from an unbalanced system.
This comprehensive outlook is a hallmark of Lengnick’s work, as is her positive vision for a more equitable and sustainable future. When it comes to her career, the question is not what work Lengnick has done to explore resilient, sustainable agriculture, but what hasn’t she done. Soil scientist, policymaker as a Senate staffer, USDA researcher, professor, sustainability consultant, advocate—Lengnick has done it all.
With her home nestled in a sunny cove in the North Carolina mountains, she bio-intensively tends to her 3,000-square-foot micro-farm. (She grows everything from greens and radishes to figs and sweet potatoes.) Based on her rich experience and deep expertise, Lengnick now views herself as a science interpreter in her interactions with farmers, public officials and the public at large. (She calls it “science-in-place").
Lengnick is the author of many articles and papers for scholars, practitioners and the general public, including the useful and engaging book Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate. She was also selected as a contributor to the Third National Climate Assessment, the authoritative U.S. climate report.
Over the years she’s traveled throughout the United States to meet with farmers to investigate the challenges and successes in the field and present her findings to many different audiences. Most recently, Lengnick has been invited to collaborate with the world-renowned Stockholm Resilience Centre, which will bring her views to an even larger audience. In a series of conversations, Lengnick and I spoke about her background, career, and philosophy to better explain where she is today. READ MORE
Agriculture is an important driver in today's economy and has been identified as one of Canada's key growth sectors. Implementation of the Plant and Animal Health Strategy for Canada is essential to economic growth, and for the health of all of our citizens and the environment.
Effective action depends on the combined and co-ordinated work of numerous partners. By taking a collaborative approach, the partners will be even more successful at protecting plant and animal resources from new and emerging risks. The action-oriented strategy outlines how all parties will work together to protect these resources, unleashing the potential for growth in Canada's agriculture sector.
"Agriculture is a key growth sector for Canada's economy. By working in collaboration with partners we have been able to create a strategy that will improve how we work together to advance the protection of plant and animal health, reduce risk to Canadians and improve our economic opportunities," said the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
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Empire State Producers ExpoTue Jan 16, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
2018 Scotia Hort CongressMon Jan 22, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM
2018 Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Annual MeetingTue Jan 23, 2018 @ 8:00AM - 05:00PM