With its large and varied land base and cooler climate reducing problems from pests and disease, Canada is an ideal country for producing organic food.

Canadian farmers' support for the organic way of life is on the rise and organic sales are climbing as more and more organic food is being sold through mainstream grocery stores. The organic industry in Canada has been increasing at a rate of 15 per cent each year over the past decade. In 2003, there were more than 3317 certified organic producers in Canada, approximately 456 certified processors and 30 certification bodies - many with accreditation from various foreign accreditors. Industry estimates of the value of the 2003 organic retail market range from $800 million to $1.3 billion. Projections for 2005 indicate organic retail sales growth may increase to $3.1 billion.

Most Canadian organic products are exported to the European Union and the United States and about five per cent of Canadian exports go to Japan. Organic grains, seeds and flours represent Canada's largest export commodity. Other key organic exports include processed food and beverages, maple syrup, apples and vegetables.

The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of the organic food production sector. In November 2004, in response to industry requests, consumer concerns and emerging international trade requirements, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, in co-operation with International Trade Canada, formed the Organic Production System Task Force. Throughout 2005, in consultation with the organic industry and Canada's provincial and territorial governments and additional federal institutions, the task force will work towards the development and implementation of an organic standard and certification system for effective consumer protection and to meet the December 31, 2005 European Union third-country equivalence list deadline for national organic production systems.

For information and updates on the Organic Production System Task Force, write to OrganicTF@inspection.gc.ca.

Source: National Standard for Organic Agriculture