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  • Ontario Consumer Produce Shopping Habits 2020

    A new consumer research study commissioned by The Ontario Produce Marketing Association (OPMA) reveals 44% of shoppers changed their produce shopping behavior during the pandemic in a variety of ways.One of the biggest shifts in shopper behavior was intention to purchase local produce, with 36% of shoppers reporting they are now looking for local more often. While the key driver of this decision is the desire to support the local economy, shoppers also believe Ontario produce is fresher, has fewer touch points and tastes better.The study also focused on shoppers’ location preferences during the pandemic, specifically when it comes to produce. While people continue to prefer to shop in-person for produce, one in four respondents indicated their produce shopping location had changed. Seven in ten respondents indicated that they buy produce in-person at conventional grocery stores, 56% shop at discount stores and 40% mentioned big box stores. “This research is unique as it is focused on the Ontario shopper and the attitudes that drive their produce purchases,” said Michelle Broom, OPMA President. “The research overwhelmingly indicates that given the opportunity, consumers want to support the local economy. It is important that we provide them with the right tools to do so.”The growing awareness of fair trade was evident with half of respondents reporting they seek out fair trade produce when shopping, particularly women. When it comes to conventional vs. organic produce, 14% of produce is purchased in the organic section, 85% of those who purchase organic say the amount of organic produce they purchase has not changed.“We were thrilled to see such high consumer interest in fair trade”, commented Jennie Coleman, President of Equifruit and OPMA member. “This study confirms that fair trade produce is a major opportunity for retailers. With 51% of respondents seeking produce certified Fairtrade, we know that we’re out of a niche and into the mainstream.”The findings indicate a small shift in frequency of shopping, with the average being five times per month, down from six times. Plastic packaging still remains a hot topic. Almost nine in ten shoppers believe it should be reduced while 66% think it should be eliminated altogether. Despite this, most agree that it’s important for food safety and reducing food waste. The OPMA partnered with Leger, the largest Canadian-owned market research and analytics company, to conduct the study on consumer shopping habits during the pandemic. The results were presented to members in a webinar by Lisa Covens, Vice-President, Communications and Public Affairs at Leger. Data was gathered through an online survey completed by 1001 grocery shoppers between October 28, 2020 and November 3, 2020 using Leger’s online panel.

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  • Packaging Regulations

    The Ontario government is expected to release draft regulations in October introducing an Extended Producer Responsibility Program. The newly-formed OPMA Packaging Round Table will meet in October to review and respond to the consultation on these regulations.In July, the OPMA formed a Packaging Round Table, consisting of members from across the supply chain and other industry associations. The group will meet several times each year to discuss any action items relating to packaging use and recycling in Ontario. The goals of this group are to act as an industry voice to the Ontario government on matters related to packaging, to support the industry in the implementation of new EPR regulations, and to communicate to the industry and consumers so we may all work towards a circular economy for packaging in Ontario.The work of the OPMA Round Table will not duplicate the CPMA Plastics Packaging Working Group. We encourage OPMA members to review the publically available resources on the CPMA website to help you make informed decisions.

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  • Member Spotlight – Award Winning PC Strawberries

    Loblaws award-Winning PC Strawberries are truly, the sweeter, cleaner berry! Greenhouse Grown locally in Ontario, these berries are grown for quality, sustainability and environmental responsibility.  With an emphasis on efficiency and supply, the climate controlled growing environment provides ideal growing conditions for maximum flavour, and extended shelf life. To top it off, a robust integrated growing practice allows consumers to be confident that PC Strawberries are grown safely and free from harmful treatments.  Perfect for snacks, salads or smoothies, these berries taste like a strawberry should!Loblaw is a proud supporter of Canadian growers and producers, sourcing from more than 400 growers and packers across Canada each year.  In season, nearly half of all produce in our stores is Canadian-grown.  We source more Canadian produce than any other grocer, and in 2018 announced that by 2025 we will spend $150 million more each year buying local produce that otherwise would have been imported from around the world.Over the past few years, our team has worked with Canadian farmers to grow a greater variety of products, including multicultural goods not traditionally grown in Canada. As a result, customers can now find bok choy, long eggplant, methi leaf, napa cabbage and okra bearing Grown in Ontario and Grown in Quebec labels. We’re investing in Canadian innovation, supporting local farmers, extending shelf life to offer fresher goods, serving new tastes, and helping the environment by reducing food waste and the carbon footprint generated by international shipments.

  • Canada & Ontario Strengthen Supply Chain

    Canada and Ontario Strengthening Farmers and Food Supply Through Skilled Trades and TrainingThe governments of Canada and Ontario announced that they are investing $750,000 in several projects that will support labour and training needs in the farming sector. Students will learn skilled trades in high demand areas such as spraying and fertilizing operations, custom tillage and harvesting operations. The project is one of several recently approved by the governments to help primary agriculture, food processing companies and food retailers to recruit and train workers who are critical in keeping the province’s essential food supply functioning. The full release from the Government of Ontario website: WOODSTOCK — The governments of Canada and Ontario today announced they are investing in several projects that will support labour and training needs in the farming sector, including committing more than $180,000 for the development of a new college program that will provide education and training in the latest agricultural equipment.Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership), the federal and provincial governments will assist Conestoga College in the creation, launch and delivery of a pilot program to expand the training opportunities for current farm sector employees and better prepare those interested in careers in agriculture to work on farms in key areas.Students will learn skilled trades in high demand areas such as spraying and fertilizing operations, custom tillage and harvesting operations. The project is one of several recently approved by the governments to help primary agriculture, food processing companies and food retailers to recruit and train workers who are critical in keeping the province’s essential food supply functioning.”Access to skilled labour is critical on farms and in processing facilities and this pilot program will help farmers meet their labour needs while allowing more Canadians to obtain meaningful and challenging employment in the agricultural and agri-food sector,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “A skilled agricultural workforce will unlock the tremendous potential of our agri-food industry, and help our farmers and food processors to continue to drive our economy, create jobs and feed Canada and the world.” “Helping to meet the labour and training needs of our agri-food sector is a priority for this government. Supporting those with a passion for a career in agriculture is key to our economy and ensures our food supply chain continues to produce healthy and nutritious food for Ontario families,” said the Honourable Ernie Hardeman, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Our government is doing everything possible to ensure farmers both today and those in the future have the training and skills necessary to operate their farm operations effectively.””Ontario has a diverse agriculture and food processing sector requiring a wide range of skilled labour,” said the Honourable Filomena Tassi, federal Minister of Labour. “We are pleased to invest now to support the food value chain for the future.” “Agriculture is by far the biggest single industry in Brant and Brantford,” said Will Bouma, MPP for Brantford-Brant. “To see the Governments of Ontario and Canada come together to support the development of a new college program to train in the latest agricultural equipment can only strengthen our goal of food self-sufficiency in Ontario.”Through a targeted intake under the Partnership’s Place to Grow: Agri-Food Innovation Initiative, the governments have also recently committed up to $594,000 to projects to boost labour supply and training in the agri-food sector. In addition to the Conestoga College program, the governments have approved: $396,000 for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture to develop a comprehensive support system for businesses in the agriculture and food sector to target communities affected by workforce shortages in the agri-food sector due to COVID-19, including a job matching and labour recruiting service;$198,000 for Food and Beverage Ontario to develop and complete a six-month marketing campaign to build confidence with frontline food workers, support business continuity for Ontario’s food and beverage processing sector, and support the operational stability of Ontario’s food and beverage processing sector during COVID-19 challenges. “We greatly appreciate the province’s investment in this important initiative,” said John Tibbits, President, Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. “As well as addressing critical workforce needs in Ontario’s agriculture and food sector, the Agriculture Equipment Operator training initiative will provide opportunities for local residents to develop in-demand skills, advance their careers and contribute to the success and well-being of the community.”Since June 2018, both the federal and provincial governments have committed support to more than 3,900 projects, through the Partnership, to help eligible Ontario farmers, processors, businesses and sector organizations innovate and grow.

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Ontario contributes over one third of Canada’s total fruit and vegetable production, contributing more than $4.2 billion and over 66,000 jobs to the economy. Approximately 43% of this value is field grown and 57% produced in greenhouse operations….Continue Reading

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