Canada’s organic market grew to $3.7 billion in 2012, with national sales of certified organic food and non-alcoholic beverages reaching $3 billion. Canada’s organic food market value tripled since 2006, far outpacing the growth rate of other agri-food sectors. A diverse consumer base is driving the sector, with 58% of all Canadians buying organic products every week.

“At the industry’s urging the government implemented strict national standards and label requirements in 2009 to uphold consumer confidence in organic claims” said Matthew Holmes, executive director of the Canada Organic Trade Association. “So it’s tremendously gratifying to see this result in such strong market growth and continued consumer commitment to organic.”

In BC, the focus of the first phase of research, two-thirds of consumers—and over three-quarters of Vancouverites—are buying organic groceries weekly. BC generated 23% of the value of the national organic food and beverage market, with strong sales across distribution channels.

“We are pleased to see growing consumer demand and impressive sales growth from mainstream retail to direct-to-consumer channels,” stated Rebecca Kneen, co-president of the Certified Organic Associations of BC.

Total Canadian organic food and beverage sales were $2.978.6 million in 2012. Sales growth of organic food and beverage products in Mainstream Retail (45% share) grew from $586.3 million in 2006 to $1.350.3 million in 2012, a growth rate of +21% a year over six years. This included sales at grocery banners, mass merchandisers and drug stores.

Sales in Natural Health and Online Retail were $864.7 million (share 29%); followed by Direct to Consumer sales, $377.6 million (13%); Foodservice/Institutional $371.0 million (12%); and Buying Clubs/Cooperatives $15.0 million (0.4%).

In mainstream retail, organic fruit and vegetables captured 40% of total sales, from beverages (due to strong sales of organic coffee), with 16% of sales, followed by dairy and eggs (15%), bread and grains (12%), packaged prepared foods (8%), and condiments and snack foods, both with 4% of sales.

COTA will have a detailed national market and consumer analysis available in September 2013.