A new report by the Canadian Organic Trade Association pegs the value of the BC organic food and beverage market at $508.1 million in 2020, a 54% increase from $329.2 million in 2017.
“Organic producers can be proud of participating in a growing sector, particularly when agriculture has faced many challenges in recent years,” Organic BC executive director Eva-Lena Lang said in a statement accompanying the report’s release.
Organic BC collaborated with the national trade association on the study, funded by the federal and provincial governments through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.
The study drew on data from market research firm Nielsen to estimate the size of the organic market. The data reflected sales at major supermarkets, mass merchandisers and drug stores.
The data sources prevent a direct comparison with previous reports, such as the 2013 report pegging total organic food and beverage sales in BC at $662 million in 2012.
However, the new report notes that the organic products market in BC has diversified significantly in the province and elsewhere.
While fresh fruits and vegetables lead organic sales in BC with nearly a third of total sales, coffee, dairy and eggs are close behind with 22% of organic sales.
Notably, organic milk was one of the fastest growing categories in terms of sales. The report notes that 23% of organic consumers in BC – more than anywhere else in Canada – have said they’re prioritizing organic dairy products in the wake of the pandemic and supply chain issues.
“Organic food sales are expected to stay on a growth trajectory for the foreseeable future. The Covid-19 crisis has increased consumer awareness of the importance of health and nutrition — values that shoppers associate with organic foods,” the report states. “In fact, 25% of BC respondents are ready to expand their experience by trying new organic products.”
BC agriculture minister and former organic grower Lana Popham pledged her support for the sector in a statement welcoming the report’s findings.
“It’s important that we continue to champion our vibrant organic sector and help them successfully grow, as they provide delicious, nutritious food for British Columbians while strengthening our provincial food system and local food economies,” she said.