In Canada, organic products were first introduced to the public in the 1960s, at farmers’ markets and health food stores. Things were very different then; natural health foods and products were considered the sole domain of ‘health nuts.’ Unlike nowadays, there wasn’t the variety or breadth of organic products available that consumers desired. As well, consumer demand had yet to reach the magnitude that it has today.
Fast forward to 2018, and the organic and natural industry is booming. There are more options for Canadians than ever before; as a result, two-thirds of us are now consuming organic products on a weekly basis. In 2017, the organic product industry contributed $5-billion to the Canadian economy, highlighting the massive growth of the industry from its humble beginnings.
Today, health food stores offer an extensive and specialized selection of natural products, organic foods, local produce and nutritional supplements – including gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options – to address their customers’ unique requirements. It’s easier than ever before for Canadians with special dietary needs or specific health conditions to obtain what they want and need. And with all the innovative options being introduced by the natural health and organic industries, these independently owned stores are often ahead of the curve in offering the latest trends.
What do Canadian organic consumers buy?
- 96% organic fruit and vegetables
- 80% organic meat and poultry
- 79% organic bread and grains
- 77% organic dairy products
“Local health food stores excel at providing a variety of organic products tailored precisely to their customers, because they know them so well,” says Helen Long, president, Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA). “With their consumer insights, CHFA member health food stores in particular are able to provide an abundance of new and innovative organic and natural health products that best meet their customers’ needs.”
Formed in 1964 from a grassroots community of health food pioneers, the CHFA has seen the industry grow every year as more and more Canadians choose organic and natural health products. And with good reason, as these products can have a positive impact on the health of Canadians, make a difference to the environment and pave the road to building a long-term sustainable economy. With 79 per cent of Canadians now using a natural health product, the natural health product industry contributed an additional $4-billion to the economy in 2017.
Where do consumers buy organic?
- 80% at regular grocery stores (mainstream retailers have seen highest growth rates)
- 23% through farmerdirect channels (e.g. farmers’ markets)
- 24% natural health stores
The natural health food store is a community-based place of interaction with in-store events and displays that keep consumers loyal. Health food stores are often family-run businesses that proudly serve the local population. While larger grocery stores often now offer an array of organic products, the smaller health food stores continue to be the place where local, organic farmers and brands receive proportionate shelf space. And, much like in the 1960s, local health food stores are innovators; they’re often the first to bring new and exciting products and boutique brands to their shelves.
Canada’s national Organic Week is the largest annual celebration of organic food, farming and products across the country. This year, Organic Week will take place from September 8 to 16. “As we envision a world in which all Canadians are achieving better health, naturally, the CHFA is proud to host Canada’s largest organic and natural health products trade show during Organic Week,” says Ms. Long.
Cook and share a photo of a recipe that prominently features an organic product on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #ChooseCanadaOrganic for your chance to win!
Contest details at organicweek.ca/contest.
Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.