Reliable data and analysis on the organic sector is critical for operators to make business decisions, for evidence-based policy-making, and supporting the growth of the sector. This page presents an overview of the Ontario organic sector, as well as links to further resources.
Data presented here has been sourced from the Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA), Canadian Organic Growers (COG), Statistics Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), Agricorp, and certifying bodies including Ecocert, Pro-Cert, CSI, QAI and OCIA.
The Organic Council of Ontario is committed to continuing to improve organic data collection and reporting on Ontario’s organic sector, and will be updating this page with further data as it becomes available. If you would like to support our work, please consider becoming a Supporting Member.
Detailed data reports are available to members of the Organic Council of Ontario. Members should use the same login credentials that they use to update their listing in the Ontario Organic Directory. If you have any questions about your login information, please contact us.
Header image credit: Paul Hamilton.
Organic farms generally have higher average net operating incomes than conventional farms within their revenue class. In the 2016 Census of Agriculture, 35% of farms reporting organic product sales were making revenues between $10k-$99k, and 36% of farms with organic product sales were making revenues between $100k-$499k (compared to 24% of overall Ontario farms in this revenue class). (Note: This revenue may not be 100% from organic product sales, as farms are able to report both organic product sales and non-organic product sales.)
Food & Beverage Processing
Most organic food processing businesses in Canada are based in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, and in particular multi-ingredient food processing. In Ontario, beverage processing makes up the largest number of processors, followed by grains, snacks, dairy, and fruits and vegetables. Ontario leads the country with the most organic dairy, beverage, grain and ingredients processors. The Canadian organic food and beverage market was valued at $4.4 billion in 2017, with $2.5 billion representing processed organic food products sold at Canadian retail (Canada Organic Trade Association). There are an estimated 528 organic food processors in Ontario, a number that represents 52% growth in the number of food processors since 2013.
Fruits & Vegetables
In 2018, Ontario had roughly 5,900 acres of organic fruit and vegetable crops, which makes up approximately 3.6% of Ontario's organic acreage (Canada Organic Trade Association). The Ontario organic sector has a larger proportion of farms producing organic fruits and vegetables (nearly 23%, including greenhouse production) than the non-organic sector (10.4%, including greenhouse production) (2016 Census of Agriculture). In 2018, Ontario ranked third among the provinces for total organic fruit and vegetable crop area (7.4%), behind Quebec (63%) and British Columbia (18%).
Grains & Oilseeds
Field crops make up approximately 78% of all Ontario cropland (2016 Census of Agriculture), and organic field crops account for approximately 1% of all field crops grown in Ontario. In 2018, Ontario ranked fourth among the provinces for total organic field crop area. The three largest field crops grown in Ontario, both organic and non-organic, are soybeans, corn, and winter wheat. In 2018, there were approximately:
- 29k acres of soybeans
- 21k acres of corn
- 11k acres of wheat
Livestock & Poultry Data
Ontario has the second most organic livestock producers in the country after Quebec, making up 31% of Canadian livestock operators. More than a quarter of Ontario’s organic farms are producing livestock or poultry (Census of Agriculture, 2016). Roughly 9% of Ontario organic farms are producing dairy cattle and milk, 7% are producing beef, 5% are producing poultry and eggs, and 4% are producing hogs and pigs. Compared to non-organic farms in Ontario, organic farms are producing a smaller share of beef (7% vs 14%) and producing a greater share of dairy (9% vs 7%) and hogs (4% vs 2%).
Market & Consumer Data
The Canadian Organic Retail Market was valued at $5.4 billion in 2017, ranking sixth in the world (Canada Organic Trade Association). Ontario is the largest provincial market, with nearly 30% market share of Canadian organic retail sales. Ontario has experienced nearly 10% annual year-over-year growth since 2012, with estimated organic retail sales at $1.6 billion in 2017. Two-thirds of Canadians are purchasing organic products weekly. Canada’s highest weekly buyers of organic groceries are millennials (83%), university graduates (78%) and families (72%).
Ontario Organic in Canadian Context
How does Ontario’s organic production compare to the rest of Canada? This report will look at Ontario's organic producers, processors, and acreage and how we have compared to the other provinces over time from 2012-2018.
The Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) produces valuable market and production data reports for the Canadian organic industry. Their annual By the Numbers report provides information about organic acreage and operators. COTA also produces specialized reports, including the Canadian Organic Market Report, Canadian Organic Food Processing Report, and Prairie Production Report.
The World of Organic Agriculture, published by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and IFOAM – Organics International, provides a comprehensive review of recent developments in global organic agriculture. It includes contributions from representatives of the organic sector around the world and presents detailed organic farming statistics that cover the area under organic management, specific information about land use in organic systems, the number of farms and other operator types, and selected market data.
The Census of Agriculture is conducted every 5 years by Statistics Canada. 2016 farm and farm operator data is available through Statistics Canada, however most information is not able to be filtered for organic in their online catalog. Some data in this portal has been sourced from the Census of Agriculture.