Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Given its own strength in organic production, Wisconsin is well positioned to benefit from the growing popularity of organics in Canada.

The organic sector in Canada is a $3 billion ($4 billion Canadian) per year industry, and growing. Organic food continues to be a significant consumer trend, fueled by social awareness and concerns about health and fair trade. Many organic products are widely available at grocery stores and supermarkets across Canada. The trend among Canadian consumers continues to move toward healthier food options, resulting in increased consumer demand for products that are free-range, organic, whole-grain fed, natural and/or free of certain ingredients, with a simplified ingredient list.

Canada's equivalency agreement for organic regulation with the U.S. (by an organic certificate issued by a U.S. accredited certifying agent) is a great benefit to Wisconsin producers looking to export their products to Canada. The Canada organic logo is available to producers through USDA-accredited certifying agents. All foods imported to Canada must meet all regulatory requirements applicable to the food and labeling requirements.

Overall, organic products tend to be pricier than the non-organic options, and specialty and gourmet food choices are now more readily available on grocery store shelves, where they are quickly becoming the product of choice. The increased selection available to consumers has also led to more competitive pricing, which has made specialty and gourmet products more attractive to the economically cautious consumer.

Examples of potential future growth opportunities can be seen at several prominent trade shows held in Canada. These events, which offer excellent market exposure opportunities for organic farms and organic products, include the Canadian Health Food Association Trade Show, Restaurants Canada Show, SIAL Canada and the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo. These trade shows provide Wisconsin companies with potential opportunities for growth through face-to-face meetings with industry decision-makers as well as consumers.