ATAMANENKO: Organics, ahead of the curve here in BC
The Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) recently published a report entitled, The BC Organic Market – Growth, Trends and Opportunities, 2013. According to the report, the organic market in Canada has grown exponentially over a very short period, to the point that it is now the fourth largest in the world. In British Columbia alone, 66% of its residents buy organic groceries every week. This makes BC the province with the most weekly organic grocery purchases per capita in Canada.
What has not been known until now is exactly how much growth, what kind of market share, or who exactly the consumer is.
In late 2012, COTA launched the Organic Market Research Program, a comprehensive study of Canada’s organic marketplace. The research provides the first data on the organic market since 2009 and combines new consumer research and insights.
Two studies were conducted before the introduction of Canada’s Organic Products Regulations in 2009, and were based primarily on mainstream grocery sales tracked and totalled. They described a mushrooming organic marketplace, but one that existed before the global recession, and before the introduction of strict national standards, import restrictions and mandatory regulatory requirements on organic claims that tightened what made it to market.
A study done by the Canada Organic Trade Association www.ota-canada.ca is the first to provide a perspective on the new, regulated organic market in Canada with a particular focus on its engine, British Columbia and the consumers who are driving its growth.
The “BC checkmark” program which is now in its twentieth year has fostered a unique awareness in BC of how certified organic food and farming differs from conventional production, which BC has enjoyed for many years. Outside of BC and Quebec, provincial regulatory programs do not yet exist. The success of BC’s organic sector offers a clear vision of growth for all of Canada’s organic market through the next decade and beyond.
We currently are home to approximately 500 certified organic producers and 110 organic processors and handlers (about 13% of all Canadian organic operators) which accounts for 22% of organic food and beverage sales in Canada. In 2012 BC alone reached over $662 million in sales.
The report by the Organic Trade Association notes that more than half of BC respondents agreed with statements on organic foods:
1) Organic farming is better for a healthy environment and organic products and nutritious.
2) They are looking to avoid GMO in their food.
3) Are willing to pay more for food that is good for them and their families.
4) Are more likely to read labels on new products.
National consumer research has revealed that 58% of Canadians are purchasing organic foods weekly. British Columbia, a traditional leader in support for organic food and farming continues to be out front.
It is clear that Canada’s organic market is here to stay and has a tremendous potential for growth. For example, in 2012, 40% of all BC farmers’ market sales were attributed to certified organic vendors (worth $45.5 million). This is in addition to $800,000 of certified organic fruit, vegetables and other products that were sold through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.
Let’s support out farmers by buying local and organic.
Alex Atamanenko is the MP for BC Southern Interior.