By Nathan Stevens
June 10, 2011
Efforts are being made to increase awareness of the importance of the food processing industry in Ontario. The Government of Ontario and Synthesis Agri-food Consulting recently developed A Global Hub for Food Processing: Agri-food Asset Map. This document highlights the province’s diverse food growing and processing sector.
Nathan Stevens is the Research and Policy Advisor for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKNX Wingham, and UCB Canada radio stations in Chatham, Belleville, Bancroft, Brockville and Kingston. It is also archived on the CFFO website: www.christianfarmers.org. CFFO is supported by 4,200 family farmers across Ontario.
The Agri-food Asset Map highlights the strengths that Ontario has to offer as a place for food companies to set up shop. And the strengths are multiple.
The business climate in Ontario is good. Ontario farmers produce over 200 different commodities, which is far above and beyond what most jurisdictions can boast. This means that a diverse number of foods can be produced from product grown close to home. Ontario’s infrastructure is solid, with transportation options on both land and water. From a natural resource perspective, Ontario is blessed with tremendous access to fresh water, many soil types for food production, and a moderate overall climate.
Companies with a focus on innovation have a strong research network to draw upon. Research and innovation clusters are placing Ontario on the leading edge of new developments in food technology. Universities, research parks, incubators and technology transfer all help facilitate the development of a diversity of new opportunities from functional foods to traceability systems.
The people of Ontario are an incredible asset for food processors in many ways. As employees, the people are well educated and skilled. Moreover, the people of Ontario are ethnically diverse which has a two-fold benefit. First, this diversity means that acquiring a sales team with fluency in a large number of languages is possible. Second, ethnic diversity creates innovative food opportunities close to home and and helps develop long-term markets.
Ultimately, a healthy, growing food processing sector in Ontario is a good thing for farmers. Growing demand close to home improves the viability of farms across this province. The Agri-food Asset Map is a great step in attracting new business to Ontario, growing the opportunities for farmers in this province.