Markets: Mainstream retailers’ 20 per cent growth leads Canada’s organic market surge

Canada’s organic market grew to CAD$3.7 billion (currently 1 CAD = 0.99 AUD) in 2012, with national sales of certified organic food and non-alcoholic beverages reaching $3 billion, according to a report by the Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA). Retail market share of organic grocery products grew from just under one per cent in 2006 to 1.7 per cent in 2012 (including fresh products), far outpacing the growth rate of other agri-food sectors, while 58 per cent of all Canadians buy organic products every week.

“At the industry’s urging, the government implemented strict national standards and label requirements in 2009 to uphold consumer confidence in organic claims,” says Matthew Holmes, executive director of COTA. “So it’s tremendously gratifying to see this result in such strong market growth and continued consumer commitment to organic.”

Total Canadian organic food and beverage sales were $2.978.6 million in 2012. Sales growth of organic food and beverage products in Mainstream Retail (45 per cent share) grew from $586.3 million in 2006 to $1.350.3 million in 2012, a growth rate of +21 per cent a year. This included sales at grocery banners, mass merchandisers and drug stores.

Sales in Natural Health and Online Retail were $864.7 million (share 29 per cent); followed by Direct to Consumer sales, $377.6 million (13 per cent); Foodservice/Institutional $371.0 million (12 per cent); and Buying Clubs/Cooperatives $15.0 million (0.4 per cent). For British Columbia, it’s estimated that total organic grocery sales at retail are split 60/40 between mainstream and natural health retailers. A majority of Canadian natural health retailers reported 10–20 per cent annual growth in 2010.

In mainstream retail, organic fruit and vegetables captured 40 per cent of total sales, from beverages (due to strong sales of organic coffee), with 16 per cent of sales, followed by dairy and eggs (15 per cent), bread and grains (12 per cent), packaged prepared foods (eight per cent), and condiments and snack foods, both with four per cent of sales.

Organic beverages enjoyed the highest growth rates in mainstream retail between 2008 and 2012. Organic coffee, shelf-stable juices and milk had the highest growth rates amongst the top ten pre-packaged grocery category segments.

Over half of Canadians feel that organic farming is better for a healthy environment and nearly half of all Canadians:

• consider organic foods a healthier, more nutritious choice
• believe ecological sustainability is an important consideration when choosing food products
• want to choose products that are not genetically modified (GM).

In British Columbia, the focus of the first phase of research, two-thirds of consumers are buying organic groceries weekly. BC generated 22 per cent of the value of the national organic food and beverage market, while representing 13 per cent of the Canadian population. COTA will have a detailed national market and consumer analysis available in September 2013.

Australian Organic Ltd Office
PO Box 810 (18 Eton Street)
Nundah? QLD 4012
Ph:? 07 3350 5716
Fax: 07 3266 5996