Canadians’ demand for organically-grown fruits and vegetables is increasing rapidly, but farmers aren’t yet meeting the need, according to a new study released by Statistics Canada.
The new study, ‘Organic: From niche to mainstream,’ is based on data from the 2006 agriculture census and a 2006 study by the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada.
It was released Friday morning by StatsCan.
The study shows more farmers are jumping on board the organic bandwagon, but the majority of the certified organic products grown in this country are field crops such as wheat and barley, and hay, and most are destined for export.
“Canada has a competitive advantage for growing grains and oilseeds because of the climate and large expanses of cropland suited to mechanization,” says the study.
“So it makes sense that organic field crops and hay would be the most common certified organic product. Many of the field crops grown organically are sold internationally — not processed, sold or eaten in Canada.”
The study found the following:
- 2,462 farming operations reported growing certified organic field crops and hay, nearly half of them in Saskatchewan;
- Less than 1,000 farms grew certified organic fruits and vegetables or greenhouse products;
- More than 6,000 farms produced certified organic animals or animal products.
But the study showed that progress is being made and production levels of organic products are on the rise:
- A total of 3,555 Canadian farms reported growing certified organic products in 2006. That marks a major increase of close to 60 per cent from 2001, when only 2,230 farms made the claim.
- Over half of the farms that accounted for the increase are in Quebec or Saskatchewan, the report states.
- Saskatchewan had the highest number of certified organic farms, with 1,181.
- 11,937 farms reported producing products that were organic, but not certified.
Laura Telford, of Canadian Organic Growers, told CTV’s Canada AM she wasn’t surprised by the numbers or types of products grown on most certified organic farms in Canada.
“We’ve known for a long time organic doesn’t really meet the expectations of Canadians,” she said. “Most Canadians think of organics as being cute little vegetable operations in Ontario or Quebec. But that’s far from the reality.”