Market Information Papers
Organic and Ethnic and Fair Trade Foods
Canada is the 4th largest organic market in the world, and due to the immigration trend over the last 30 years, also one of the fastest growing market for ethnic foods. Canada imported in 2015 over CAD$850 million worth of foods in the category of Organic, Ethnic and Fair Trade foods, and increase of over 13% over the previous year total of $757 million dollars.
Much of the demand in this category is driven by a change in the Canadian consumer’s, who is becoming more and more health and socially conscious, leading them to seek out Organic and Fairtrade foods. That same mainstream consumer has been in contact with a variety of ethnic foods, either through travels, ethnic restaurants, or friends, and is seeking to re-create those flavours at home, driving the demand for ethnic ready-made foods, seasonings, sauces, and snacks.
While most of the consumers of foods in this category tend to be between 20 and 36 years old, known as Millennials, and female, this category is growing in mainstream acceptance, with older people seeking to adopt a healthier life style, and more families wanting to raise their children with healthier and more diverse foods.
The foods in this category can be found in large scale retailers, like Wal-Mart, Loblaws, and Metro, and also in speciality stores like ethnic and organic stores, which can be large chains like T&T Supermarket, Whole Foods and Planet Organic, or small and medium size independent grocers, many of which are in corner store format. With the statistical information gleaned we were able to extract which were the most imported products into Canada for this category (mainly coffee, bananas and olive oil), where were they coming from (U.S., Mexico and Colombia), and also where do opportunities lie for new products and which countries are expanding their exports the most.
Market entry considerations in this sector must be carefully researched while most products in this category sell at a premium price compared with regular products much of that premium goes to cover the extra cost associated with specific certifications, labeling and packaging regulations that govern these products. It is important to note that currently the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is undergoing a revision of the Safe Food for Canadians Act, and some of the proposed changes will affect this category and can potentially increase the cost of compliance.
Most of the foods in this sector comes in through the same distributions channels as regular food, initially clearing through major city ports of entry such as Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, from which they are distributed to the rest of Canada. Because of Canada’s large size, additional costs for transportation and refrigeration for keeping the food fresh must be kept in mind by exporters in this sector.