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Organic food sales in Alberta growing at a sizzling pace

New study finds organic food and beverage sales expanding by more than 10 per cent annually

Sales of organic food and beverages in Canada is booming, especially in Alberta, says a new report from the Prairie Organic Grain Initiative.

The report pegs the value of the organic market (not counting alcohol sales) in Canada at $4.2 billion and says it grew by an average of 8.4 per cent annually from 2012 to 2017. In Alberta, growth was even higher — 10.2 per cent annually during that period — and the market generated sales of $676 million in 2017.

“Alberta stands out as an emerging leader in Canada’s organics sector,” says the report. “Albertans are most likely to be organic buyers and its organic market growth and share exceed the national average.”

However, the number of Alberta consumers buying organic food from mainstream retailers dropped during that time, from 82 per cent to 76 per cent. (In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, that number increased to 78 per cent from 61 per cent.)

“Similar to national trends, fruits and vegetable purchases in the Prairies were the largest organic category,” the Prairie Organic Grain Initiative said.

But Canada is still a big importer of organic products, with just over half of them coming from the U.S. On the other hand, 12 per cent of organic exports from Canada headed to the U.S.

The group credited three factors for driving growth of organic food and beverages: More investment in both transition programs and infrastructure, along with consumer education campaigns. In a news release, it cited new provincial legislation, which comes into effect in April, saying it will ensure “any product making an organic claim that is grown or sold within the province of Alberta meets the national (organic) standards.”

The study is based on an online consumer research study using the Ipsos i-Say panel, as well as data from Nielsen Company and Statistics Canada.

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