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Recent facts about certified organic fruits and vegetables in Canada, 2021

Released: 2022-07-14

Recent facts about certified organic fruits and vegetables in Canada

In 2021, certified organic fruit and vegetable farmers grew less produce overall compared with 2020. Adverse weather conditions in the main organic farming provinces negatively affected fruit production (-11.6%), while organic vegetable production increased 4.5%. Certified organic production accounted for 3.3% of all fruit and vegetables nationally in 2021.

Certified organic fruit and vegetable farmers require mandatory certification and must ensure compliance with the Canadian Organic Standards, which is regulated by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Certified organic farmers' main farming practice is limiting the use of synthetic crop inputs, such as pesticides and fertilizers.

Area dedicated to certified organic fruit and vegetable cultivation remained relatively stable at 19 246 hectares (-0.5%) in 2021. The farm-gate value of certified organic fruit and vegetables increased 3.1% to $170.0 million. The growth was due to an increase in the value of vegetables (+13.8%), which more than offset the decline of fruits (-3.6%).

Decrease in cultivated area of organic fruits

In 2021, total certified organic fruit cultivated area in Canada remained relatively consistent (+0.5% to 14 281 hectares) with a year earlier. However, fruit bearing area declined 6.8% to 8 390 hectares.

Farm-gate value of certified organic fruit fell 3.6% to $98.1 million in 2021, which was attributable to a 25.5% decrease in the farm-gate value of certified organic blueberries (to $22.3 million). However, increases were recorded for certified organic strawberries (+55.6% to $3.3 million) and certified organic grapes (+16.2% to $8.2 million).

Quebec accounted for the largest share of organic fruit cultivated area (82.8%), followed by British Columbia (9.8%) and Ontario (5.7%).

In Quebec, organic fruit bearing area decreased 8.7% compared with 2020 because of a reduction in the cultivated area of cranberries (-20.3%) and blueberries (-8.8%). Cultivated area of organic cranberries decreased 20.5% from 2020 to 2021, causing production to decline 19.7% to 23.8 million kilograms. Several cranberry farms that made the leap to organic management returned to conventional management in 2021, pest control being a factor (in French only).

Canada imports more organic berries

Total organic berry imports increased 33.8% in 2021 compared with the previous year. Organic strawberries accounted for the biggest portion with 10.7 million kilograms (+42.8%), followed by organic blueberries with 4.8 million kilograms (+27.5%), and organic raspberries and loganberries with 3.0 million kilograms (+16.8%). Most imports came from the United States (65.9%) and Mexico (23.0%).

By comparison, Canadian farms sold 357,908 kilograms (+51.7%) of organic strawberries, 7.1 million kilograms (-36.3%) of organic blueberries and 38,710 kilograms (-17.2%) of organic raspberries in 2021.

Canadian farmers are growing more certified organic vegetables

Total certified organic vegetable production (excluding potatoes, greenhouse vegetables and seeds) increased 4.5% to 42.6 million kilograms in 2021, despite a slight decrease in cultivated area (-3.3% to 4 965 hectares).

In 2021, Quebec accounted for just over three-quarters of the certified organic vegetable area (75.5%), followed by Ontario (12.3%) and British Columbia (8.9%). In 2021, certified organic vegetable cultivated area represented 4.7% of the entire field vegetable area.

Organic vegetable farm-gate value rose 13.8% to $71.9 million, accounting for 5.1% of the total field vegetable farm-gate value in 2021. Over half of the total certified organic vegetables grown domestically were produced in Quebec ($43.5 million) in 2021, while almost one-third were grown in British Columbia ($14.6 million) and Ontario ($8.0 million).

Imports of organic vegetables from Mexico has increased

In 2021, organic lettuce (12.2 million kilograms) topped certified organic vegetable imports, followed by organic cauliflower and broccoli (11.6 million kilograms), and organic baby carrots (11.1 million kilograms). Of these vegetables, 85.9% were imported from the United States and 10.6% from Mexico.

Over the past year, organic cauliflower and broccoli have experienced the greatest growth in imports (+53.5%). Meanwhile, domestic marketed production of organic cauliflower and broccoli decreased 13.9% to 3.8 million kilograms in 2021.

  Note to readers

These estimates should be used with caution. The organic farm database, which was used to identify which farms in the Fruits and Vegetables Survey are organic, is not complete. Therefore, there may be undercoverage in the estimates. The use of administrative data to improve the quality of the estimates has been limited to Quebec and British Columbia.

The estimates of cultivated area and production for certified organic fruits and vegetables were derived from the Fruits and Vegetables Survey. The Fruits and Vegetables Survey tracks the total cultivated area, harvested area, total production, marketed production and farm-gate value of selected fruits and vegetables grown in Canada, including certified organic and conventional farms. Our regular release for the entire estimates was published on February 10, 2022.

Administrative data sources were also used, such as cultivated area collected by the Conseil des appellations réservées et des termes valorisants, to enhance the quality of the data.

Farm-gate value is the value received by producers at the point of first transaction, when ownership first changes hands. This value excludes any separately billed costs such as delivery, storage, marketing and administration.

For the latest information on the Census of Agriculture, visit the Census of Agriculture portal.

For more information on agriculture and food, visit the Agriculture and food statistics portal.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or Media Relations (statcan.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.statcan@statcan.gc.ca).

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