Crop diversity in Canada is being influenced by the changing face of Canadians. An increasingly diverse population within Canada is altering the overall Canadian palate growing the demand for non-traditional food items. For example, Canada’s growing Asian population has led to an increased demand for and consumption of seafood, fruits, seeds, and nuts.Our changing Canadian society is therefore affecting the types of crops we need and want to grow here. Thirty years ago, Saskatchewan did not produce pulses. Pulses are legumes, such as chickpeas, lentils, and edible beans. Pulses are a good low-fat, high-fibre source of energy and protein, which are now in high demand from our growing Asian, East Indian, and African populations. Saskatchewan is currently the world’s largest green lentil exporter. (All About Food)
New foods and crops being produced and grown in Canada are creating a lot of new job opportunities too. Some examples of those opportunities include
- Market researchers: People who assess the market demand for certain products.
- Field researchers: People who grow the new varieties of crops.
- Business plan developers: People who work with growers to develop plans to get the new crops to the consumers.
All these different sectors work together with community-based food production facilities to get consumers what they want when they want it, and as locally as possible.
Opportunities for Food Entrepreneurs Abound With the Demand for New Crops
Consumers prefer to have fresh, local options of these vegetables instead of the imported varieties, which may have been picked weeks before reaching store shelves.
The desire for local “world crops” represents a tremendous potential for growers across Canada, and opportunities for food entrepreneurs as well. For example, the Canadian market for okra was $50 million dollars in 2012. People in Canada want to eat locally grown okra, which is just one new and potentially vast market for Canadian food entrepreneurs. (All About Food)
Food processing facilities, such as Ontario Agri-food Venture Centre (OAFVC) in Northumberland County, help expand the local community-based food production market. OAFVC supports food entrepreneurs and helps them bring their local offerings to local markets.
OAFVC is an Ontario non-profit food processing facility that provides opportunities for food entrepreneurs through:
- Affordable commercial kitchen space for startup food producers and entrepreneurs,
- Input on creating new products in bulk, with free advice from their knowledgeable staff,
- Safe volume food production following Canadian food safety standards,
- Networking opportunities with local contacts and information, and
- Consumer base expansion within the local Canadian Agri-food distribution chain.
Find Out What You Need to Know About Food Production
Check out what community-based food production looks like near you by downloading the E-book, How To Prepare For a Future in the Food Business.