It was a beautiful weekend for the annual CHFA East show in Toronto on Sept. 19 and 20, 2015. Canada’s largest conference and trade show for the natural health and organics industry was laid out over 95,000 sq. ft. in the vast Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) south building. This year’s show was the biggest to date and the second year to be held in MTCC’s larger facility. There were more than 800 exhibitors.

“As the natural health and organic products industry continues to grow, demand for booth space at our trade show has increased,” confirmed Helen Long, president, Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA).

“It was a super good show with lots of amazing connections and a lot of repeat customers from last year,” said Crystal Laughlin, Business Development for Peachland, B.C.-based Seabuckthorn International, which offers seabuckthorn natural skincare, supplements, and wild-crafted tea.

It was the first CHFA East show for Timothy Lee, President of 323 MicroCare Inc., which manufactures a natural cold sore remedy with braille on its packaging. He was impressed by the response to his product and pleased by how busy the show was.

For Chris Muir, Operations Manager, USA, Canada & Caribbean for Wild Hibiscus Flowers Company, the show was a chance to learn about the Canadian market to determine the business strategy for the next six to 12 months. Wild Hibiscus offers products made from hibiscus, butterfly pea and rose flowers for the retail and restaurant trades.
“One missed opportunity I see for retailers here compared to the U.S. is to invest more in the Mixer or Cocktail category for consumers who create cocktails at home because retail buyers are often not sure where to place our products in their stores,” he explained.

This year’s CHFA Industry Achievement Awards ceremony in Toronto also recognized two pioneers in the natural health and organic products industry. Mary Forstbauer received the CHFA Organics Achievement Award for decades of leadership in the organic movement in Western Canada. Genuine Health’s Stewart Brown received the John Holtmann Leadership Award for an outstanding career spanning more than 40 years.

The Canadian Organic Trade Association (COTA) estimates there are currently around 5,000 certified organic farms, processors and handlers in Canada covering 900,000 hectares of farmland. These farms employ more than 11,000 workers, making Canada the fourth largest market for organic products in the world.
Organics contribute $4 billion to Canada’s industry each year, with 58% of consumers buying some organic products weekly. The value of the organic industry in Canada has grown threefold since 2006. New Canadian Organic Standards were launched on November 9th.

CHFA partners yearly with the Canada Organic Trade Association and the Canadian Organic Growers to organize Organic Week, the country’s largest celebration of organic food, farming, and products.

The three CHFA shows (hosted in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec) are the voice of the natural health industry in Canada. Each has its benefits.

The largest is CHFA East held annually in Toronto with the highest number of exhibitors and attendees. Next year’s show will be held Sept. 17 and 18, 2016.

CHFA West, in Vancouver, is the second largest event with more than 600 exhibitors in 2015. It offers B.C.’s strong local organic industry the chance to exhibit to a national audience of distributors, retailers and manufacturers. The next show is May 14 and 15, 2016.

CHFA Quebec is a biennial trade show in Montreal and the only event of its kind in Eastern Canada. The next show is Feb. 10 and 11, 2017.