Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced March 6 that the Canadian government would invest $170,000 into Canada’s organic sector at the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network (ACORN) conference and trade show in Charlottetown.

Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, spoke on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz in announcing a partnership with the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and the Government of Canada to develop a long-term international marketing strategy to expand Canada’s organic sector.

organic-produce2-featured.jpgThe Government of Canada’s AgriMarketing program will give $118,000 to the OTA for research into international market trends. This money is earmarked for participating in international trade shows, developing promotional materials, and building a long-term

international strategy for the organic sector, both domestic and international.

“We are excited about what this means in terms of building new international markets for Canadian organic products,” said Matthew Holmes, managing director of the OTA in Canada.

Almost $50,000 from the Government of Canada’s Integrated Food Safety Initiative will go to the Canadian Organic Growers Association (COG). The money will be used to develop a strategy for determining how current on-farm food safety systems can best meet the specific needs of organic agriculture. In consultation with organic farmers across Canada, the COG will choose five organic commodities for this project.

During the ACORN conference, Minister Shea announced that it is the government’s intention to support the organic farmers of Canada to develop markets and stay competitive, saying, “We want to give Canadian farmers and processors a competitive edge in the organic sector and help them meet consumer demands at home and abroad by providing organic products of the highest standards.”

In 2008, the Canadian organic retail market was valued at nearly $2 billion. This represented a 66 percent growth rate from 2006, when the organic sector retail value was recorded at $1.2 billion. Global organic sales were estimated at $50.9 billion (US) in 2008, and preliminary data shows that growth has continued through the global recession.

“The global organic market is expanding rapidly and this support will allow Canada to establish itself as a supplier of quality organic

products. When you know more about supply and demand in foreign markets, you are in a better position to make sales,” said Holmes.