Canada's Organic Industry at a Glance - 2009
Canada's large and varied land base, combined with its cooler climate, make it an ideal country for producing organic food. The sector is diversifying and expanding into new markets while achieving double digit annual growth in production and retail sales over the past decade.
This growth rate is expected to continue increasing in coming years as the organic sector in Canada becomes more organized, trade impediments are reduced or eliminated, and consumer confidence and demand continues to grow due to the implementation of mandatory certification to minimum standards.
Canadian industry facts
- Approximately 3,900 producers working on 695 thousand hectares of land produce certified organic products in Canada.
- Certified organic farms account for approximately 1.7% of the total number of farms in Canada.
- Organic livestock is one of the fastest growing sectors.
- There are about 1,200 certified organic processors and handlers in Canada, producing a wide variety of ingredients and consumer-ready products.
- A 2008 AC Nielsen study commissioned by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada revealed total annual retail sales of certified organic products in Canada are approximately $2 billion, with about 45% moving through mainstream supermarkets. In addition, fresh vegetables account for 25% of all supermarket organic food sales.
- Canada exports a wide selection of certified organic products, ranging from bulk grains to pre-packaged consumer-ready products in every category.
- The largest share of our exports goes to the United States, the European Union and Japan.
- As can be expected from the breadbasket of the world, organic wheat is our most popular export. However, exports of oats, flax, barley, lentils, peas, spelt, hemp, soybeans, corn, sunflowers, and other grains and oilseeds are also significant.
New Organic Products Regulations make certification in accordance with the National Standard for Organic Agriculture mandatory for all organic products. Canada has successfully concluded an organic equivalency agreement with the United States and the EU, and is pursuing agreements with other trading partners (for example, Japan) to facilitate the unfettered trade of organic products.
For more information
Beverages and Organics Section
Food Value Chain Bureau
Markets and Industry Services Branch
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
1341 Baseline Road, Tower 5, Floor 2
Canada K1A 0C5