Farm To Fork: Organics In Alberta

ALBERTA - “A research project, Farm to Fork was recently undertaken to get a better picture of the organic industry in Alberta and Canada,” says Rosalie Cunningham, market research analyst with Alberta Agriculture and Food, Edmonton. Findings include:
calendar icon 21 August 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

“Three areas were considered: the producers/processors in Alberta, the Canadian organic consumer, and a Canadian retail grocery snapshot.” As part of the project, a written survey was sent to all the certified organic producers and processors in Alberta. The response rate from the 240 producers and 42 processors was high.

A 65 percent response rate for producers and 78 percent for processors provided interesting insights, including:

  • Estimated total 2004 cash receipts for organic producers were $15.2 million. Estimated growth for 2005 was 14 percent.
  • In Alberta, the main products are field crops and livestock. Alberta is home to the largest organic beef herd in Canada at 10,288 head. (
  • While only 14 percent of the producers sold value added products, these products contributed 30 percent to the total cash receipts.
  • 26 percent of the cash receipts were sold directly to a processor (most likely field crops), 23 percent sold directly to the consumer (most likely meat and vegetables).
  • 40 percent of Alberta grown/raised product is sold in Alberta.
  • Processing in the province consists mainly of meat processing and seed/grain cleaning.
“Polling was used to assess the organic consumer,” says Cunningham. “The research results show growth of five per cent for both categories of heavy (23 per cent) and light (27 per cent) buyers of organic food over five years. Children are a factor in organic purchasing. Heavy and light organic buyers are both more likely to have children at home. Both buyer categories are more likely to be female; however, males age 34 to 54 years are also driving some of the growth.”

The average Canadian organic consumer is secure, settled and in the prime-of-life, probably with children – not that different from mainstream consumers. Health issues continue to be a major driver and are seen as more important than environmental ones. When respondents were asked where they purchased most of their organic food, the results showed that 47 per cent of purchases are made at a big grocery venue and 30 per cent are made at a small venue including on-farm.

“Another area that this research project considered was a retail snapshot,” says Cunningham. “This is the first time that a market figure has been derived from Canadian data. From this AC Nielsen data, we learned that the value of organic food being purchased at grocery stores in Canada in 2006 was about $412 million. This represents a 28 per cent growth rate over 2005 statistics. Alberta, alone, accounted for $48 million in organic purchases and had the highest growth rate in the country at 44 per cent. The total value of the Canadian market for organic food through all channels is estimated to be about $1 billion.”

Click "Farm to Fork: Organics in Alberta" to view the report.


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