Sep 16, 2016 11:45:00 PM
The State of the Canadian Organic Industry
The organic sector in Canada is a rapidly growing one. Since the introduction of the Canada organic label in 2009, the country has matured into the 5th largest organic market in the world, with $4.9B in sales and 825 thousand hectares of organic farmland across Canada, growing at a rate of 17% per year.
Canadians want transparency in their food production systems. They care about the environment, too. More than 41% of Canadian organic food buyers cite environmental concerns as a main driver in their decision to purchase organic. Organic farming promotes biodiversity, increases pollinators and provides an economic advantage to the country by supporting local economies through job creation and opportunities for small scale farmers and next generation millennials to enter the industry as suppliers.
Tia Loftsgard,the newly appointed president of the Canadian Organic Trade Association(COTA) spoke to a room full of attendees this week at the annual Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) East Conference in Toronto, revealing useful insights on the Canadian organic industry and the purchasing habits of Canadian organic buyers.
Canadian organic buyers are committed to organic. In the midst of rising food prices, 80 percent of Canadian organic consumers claim that they will either maintain their current purchasing habits or purchase more organic food. These buyers are ready and willing to spend the money if they know what is behind the label.
When it comes to purchasing motivations - Canadian consumers desire to avoid pesticides and harmful chemicals in food consumption. Organic food restricts the use of many pesticides and harmful chemicals compared to conventional. For livestock production, as an example, there are more than 550 synthetic active ingredients approved by the FDA in animal drug products, compared to just 22 synthetic livestock health treatments allowed in organic livestock production.
Many organic consumers in Canada are residents of British Columbia. More than half of Canadian consumers purchase organic weekly in the categories of Fruit and Vegetables (77%), Dairy Products (26%) and Meat and/or Poultry (24%).
Millennials are a rapidly growing sector purchasing organic inCanada. Buying organic at twice the rate as baby boomers, this demographic is critical in spurring and sustaining industry growth for the country.
Additionally, organic buyers are spread between multiple socioeconomic levels.When it comes to organic food purchases, income is not a differentiator in likelihood to purchase.
Canadians have a high trust in the Canadian organic label and what it stands for. This is a trust that has been earned, but there is still a long ways to go in the country. With only 2% of Canada's agriculture classified as organic, the country has a road to plow ahead - but there is a promising and profitable future for the 5,000 growers and processors in the industry today, as well as those who will come on board inthe years to come.
Data Source: Canadian Organic Trade Association