Reliable data and analysis on the organic sector is critical for operators to make business decisions, for evidence-informed 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 continuing to update this page with further data as it becomes available. If you would like to support our work, please consider becoming a Supporting Member.
Organic farms generally have higher average net operating incomes than conventional farms within their revenue class.
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. $4.4 B Canadian organic food and beverage market (2017) $2.5 B Value of processed organic food products sold at Canadian retail (includes imports) (2017) 528 Organic food processors in Ontario (2018) 52% Growth in organic food processors in Ontario (2013-2018)
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 and 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.
Organic farms tend to use more labour relative to conventional farms.
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 Agriculture
955 Number of certified organic farms in Ontario (2018) 10% Growth in number of organic and transitional farms 2011-2016 in Ontario 1.7% Share of total Ontario farms that are organic or in transition (2016) 161,970 Organic acreage in Ontario (2018) 24% Growth in organic acreage in Ontario 2010-2016 1.7% Share of Ontario cropland that is organic (2016)
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.