Organic sales in Canada have tripled in six years, research finds

Fifty-eight per cent of Canadians buy organic products weekly

The value of Canada’s organic retail market hit $3.7 billion in 2012, a three-fold jump from 2006, according to figures released by the Canada Organic Trade Association.

The majority of organic sales last year–$3 billion–were food and non-alcoholic beverages that were certified as organic.

"The data speaks for itself," Matthew Holmes, COTA’s executive director said. "Consumers are continuing to drive the growth in the organic market at all local farmers' markets to mainstream retail."

One reason for the hike in organic sales recently has been stricter organic standards and labeling requirements. Those were put in place by Ottawa in 2009.

As a result, “consumers know organic means something and is backed up by the government. And because of the regulations, there's a level playing field for businesses,” Holmes said.

Canada's major grocery banners, where most Canadians buy their groceries, accounted for 45 per cent of total organic food and beverage sales in Canada last year. (see chart below)

READ: Reasons for buying organic food go beyond nutrition

Organics are also now as mainstream as any other grocery product. Fifty-eight per cent of Canadians purchase organic products at least once a week.

As for who is buying organics, Shauna MacKinnon, COTA’s projects and development manager, said national research found all income levels purchase organics.

Seven years ago, she noted, people in the highest income brackets were the main buyers of organic items.

MacKinnon added that last year 67 per cent of organic buyers identified them as non-Caucasian. This group represented the country’s biggest purchasers of organic products, according to MacKinnon.

Not surprisingly, the most popular organic products last year were fruit and vegetables, comprising 40 per cent of all organic sales.  Beverages and dairy and eggs were the second and third biggest categories (see chart below)

Among pre-packaged grocery items, organic beverages enjoyed the fastest rates of growth between 2008 and 2012. Coffee, shelf-stable juices and milk were especially fast gainers during this time period. (see chart below)

More detailed information on some of the research findings is available here.

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