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Summary of "A study of potential market niches for Canadian organic producers".

Prepared for Agriculture Canada, Ottawa.

Canadian Organic Growers Inc. (1990).


mail and telephone survey of participants in the organic market from farmers to retailers. It included 236 responses to a mailed questionnaire and 21 in-depth telephone interviews

50 organizations involved in promoting organic

585 certified producers - 75,000 acres - also estimate another 600 growers who could be certified but are not (25,000 acres); estimate 6000 growers in transition; 65 companies involved in distribution, wholesaling, importing and export and processing

Respondant Characteristics - COG (1990) Survey

Commodity Responses Growth Market Costs Premium
Grains & Oilseeds 54 155 15 0.80 34
Fruits 42 177 12 1.15 34
Vegetables 94 209 7 0.95 71
Meat 51 166 1 0.90 39
Dairy 18 108 0 0.85 13


Results based on 236 respondants

Growth - projected sales for 1991 as a percentage of 1989

Market - Number of respondants reporting sales in the United States

All reported sales primarily in the domestic market

Costs - Farm expenses as a proportion of conventional producers

Premium- Number of respondants reporting receipt of a price premium

grains - received price premium and expected considerable growth in sales - costs 80% of conventional

fruit - strong growth, mostly consumed in Canada, costs 15% above conventional

vegetables - strong growth, most consumed in Canada, costs 95% if conventional

meat - strong growth, consumed in Canada, costs 90% of conventional

dairy - weak growth (8%) - costs 85% of conventional

barriers to growth - economic conditions (operating funds, capital, low prices) lack of information, regulatory,

farms vary greatly - (158 respondants) - over 60% reported sales of less than $50,000 while sales up to $5.3 million were reported

- sales were expected to increase by 41% by 149 respondants

telephone survey - 21 retailers, growers, importers, exporters, wholesalers brokers, processors - chosen since they were identified as being "major players" in the market with at least several years experience

imports exceed exports, fruit and vegetables dominate the import market, also processed foods; grains primary in exports

- expected strong growth; prices highly volitile due to thin market;

imports dominate exports; grains and pulses exported to US and Europe,

fruit and veg dominate the import market

- barriers - inconsistent and limited supply, need for more marketing efforts, trade regulations, packaging regulatons, consumer education, information nees by growers; want government to financially support the industry, underwrite national standards by "favoured a hands-off role for government"

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