New data shows healthy growth in value-added and foodservice markets

OTTAWA, Sept. 10, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) is proud to announce during this Organic Week (Sept. 8-16) that the Canadian organic market share has reached 2.6% of grocery market sales for food and beverage (Nielsen data, 2017). This is a tremendous growth from 1.7% in 2012, highlighting a rapidly expanding industry that once was considered small and niche.  Consumer demand for organics is growing at an unprecedented pace, now allowing organic to hold the title of the fastest growing sector in Canadian agriculture.  Canada also has the fifth largest consumer market worldwide.

Canadian farmers are increasingly adopting organic methods of production to keep up with the demand. According to the 2016 Census of Agriculture, organic is steadily seeing increases in the number of producers and acreage while attracting a rising proportion of new and young farmers. This growth is happening at the same time that non-organic farmer numbers and non-organic acreage is declining.

Between 2011 and 2016, the Census of Agriculture recorded the following changes.

  • While total farmland decreases nationally, organic acreage is the one form of agricultural production that continues to see significant increases.
    • Total acreage: ↓ 0.9%
    • Organic acreage: ↑ 45%
  • While the number of farms is similarly decreasing, there are more and more organic farms each year.
    • Total number of farms: ↓ 5.9%
    • Number of certified and transitional organic farms: ↑ 4.1%
  • Organic farmers are, on average, younger than non-organic farmers.
    • 14.6% of organic farmers are under 35.
    • 9% of non-organic farmers are under 35. 

Organic Food Service Study 2018
COTA’s soon-to-be-released Organic Food Service Study 2018 illustrates that consumer demand remains high, continuing to push the industry to offer more and more organic options in food service settings. The research, conducted by Technomic, Inc. outlines the market share of organic by product categories and food service venues. The report highlights high-level organic trends in food service offerings in restaurants, fast food venues, cafes, institutional settings (such as hospitals and schools) and more.  Canada’s organic food service market was estimated at $555 million in 2017, with 74% ($409 M) of this volume coming from organic food sales and 26% ($146 M) from organic beverage sales. Nearly a third of all organic foods in food service are within the travel and leisure environments. It also highlights the perspectives of foodservice operators on the future demand for organic and why they feel consumers demand organic in a food service setting.

Ready-to-go and value-added organic products
Though produce continues to be the largest category in the organic food and beverage market by value, there has been heightened demand for ready-to-go and value-added organic products (a manufactured product that adds value beyond the primary ingredient). The research shows that the organic food processing sector in Canada is on solid footing with respect to growth and economic health with businesses reporting year-over-year growth in excess of 10%.  

As new venues demand more organic, innovation in value-added products is required to be suitable for grab-and-go environments and to meet the needs of the organic consumer who wants an organic alternative.  COTA will be releasing next month a detailed report on the Canadian organic food and beverage processing sector. This will be the first report of its kind in Canada detailing Canada’s key organic processing categories including sales, trends, technical considerations, key players and innovations within each category. A few key highlights from the report are that non-alcoholic beverages, dairy and ready-made meals are the top-performing organic processed categories.

Both of these reports will be published on COTA’s online store soon.

Spokesperson quotes

“In the 9 years since the inception of Organic Week, the organic market has grown substantially. The numbers speak for themselves, with the Canadian market now valued at $5.4 billion. More than ever Canadians are wanting sustainably produced foods that avoid preservatives, synthetic fertilizers, artificial and genetically engineered ingredients (GMOs).  Consumers want to trust the food they eat and understand the origin and effect of their food choices. Organic Week celebrates important organic sector achievements in offering consumers healthy and accessible organic choices. COTA is thrilled with the successes of our industry association members and the continued support of the Canadian government to assist bringing organic agriculture and products to meet the unprecedented demand by Canadians.” Tia Loftsgard, executive director, Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA).”

“Organic week is a great opportunity for all Canadians to enjoy Canada’s high-quality organic products and celebrate the tremendous growth we are seeing in Canada’s organic sector. Our government will continue our strong support of Canadian organic farmers and businesses to make sure they can meet the growing consumer demand for organic products. Through targeted investments, we are ensuring the Canadian Organic Standards are up-to-date, ‎opening new markets, helping farmers transition to organic, and helping organic farmers adopt new sustainable practices and technologies.  We will continue to collaborate with industry partners, such as the Canada Organic Trade Association, to ensure Canada’s organic sector remains among the most competitive and recognized in the world.” The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

“At Nature’s Path, as always organic, we believe organic can protect and enhance the health of both people and planet. Organic can build a better world free from chemical residues in food and free of toxic environments for farmers. We continue to support and work with the Canada Organic Trade Association as they work to protect, build and grow our vibrant organic sector for our country.” Arran Stephens, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Nature’s Path.

“As a young female farmer, I’m committed to organic agriculture. I’m optimistic for the future my son will inherit, since more and more farmers are seeing the benefits of organic farming and are transitioning to certified organic methods.” Lisa Mumm, Owner of Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds.

About Organic Week
With all of these organic sector achievements, COTA is proud to be one of the main organizers of Organic Week, Canada’s largest celebration of organic food, farming and products. Since the first Organic Week in 2009, there have been over a thousand events nationwide and over 3500 participating retail locations annually. This September 8-16th, join us in celebrating organic by attending an event in your region, choosing organic products and participating in several of our organic contests. To participate and learn more, visit 

Organic Week organizers
Organic Week is organized by the Canada Organic Trade Association, the Canadian Organic Growers and the Canadian Health Food Association, and supported by regional partners.

Organic Week sponsors
Thank you to our Organic Week sponsors: PC Organics, Nature's Path, Alive Publishing, UNFI Canada, Manitoba Harvest, Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, du Breton, Yorkshire Valley Farms, Lantic, Fromagerie L'Ancêtre, Patience Fruit d'Or, The Big Carrot, Organic Garage, Left Coast Naturals, Wholesome, Pro-Cert, Camino, Salt Spring Coffee, Custom Food Packaging and Organic Meadow.  

About the Canada Organic Trade Association
The Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) is the membership-based association for the organic sector in Canada: representing growers, processors, certifiers, provincial farmers' associations, importers, exporters, retailers and others throughout the organic value chain. COTA's mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy. COTA brings together the diversity of Canada's organic sector: from farmer and processor to retail, including food products, fibre and textiles, personal care, and emerging sectors such as organic aquaculture. Visit

Media contact: Rebecca Schwartz, Canada Organic Trade Association, 613-482-1717 x203,