Organic Food Sales In Canada Rise 57%, Now Top $5 Billion A Year

Canadians love organic food.

Data from Statistics Canada shows that annual retail sales of organic food and beverage products in Canada have increased 57% over the past five years and that consumers in this country now spend more than $5 billion a year buying organic products.

Two in three Canadians (67%) now spend at least some of their weekly grocery budget on organic items, up from about 50% in 2014. This despite the fact that organic grocery items tend to be anywhere from 20% to 60% more expensive than the same non-organic items, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

The rise in organic food sales extends across multiple categories – from fruits and vegetables to nuts and even desserts such as pies. When asked why they choose more expensive organic food items, the majority of Canadians (78%) cite "health benefits" as the main reason, according to a poll by StatsCan. Other reasons for the move towards organic include "fewer chemicals" and "better for the environment."

Grocery stores have been responding to the rise in consumer spending on organic food, with major Canadian chains such as Loblaws, Provigo and Metro stocking more all-natural items on their shelves. Organic foods market share through mainstream retailers in Canada rose from 1.7% in 2014 to 2.6% at the end of 2019.

There has also been a proliferation of specialty organic food store chains cropping up in Canada, including retailers such as Fiesta Farms, The Healthy Butcher, Nature's Emporium and Sweet Potato.

"Canadians today are more health-conscious than ever before, and I think this is reflected in the food they choose to purchase and consume," says Jackie Kwitko, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Fressy Bessie Foods Inc., a Toronto-based company that has developed an organic form of popsicle that’s made with all-natural fruits and vegetables.

Operating under the tagline, "Fruit is nature’s candy," Fressy Bessie has grown exponentially since it was first launched in 2014 and distributed at Toronto area farmer’s markets. This at a time when Statista data shows that Canadians’ consumption of ice cream has fallen 45% over the past 15 years, dropping from a peak reached in 2005.

The shift to organic comes as data from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows that 64% of Canadians over the age of 18 are overweight or obese, and about 30% of children aged 5-17 are overweight or obese.