Greenhouse Canada

Ethnic foods, ‘Buy Local’ among retailing trends

January 21, 2014  By Dave Harrison

Jan. 21, 2014, Simcoe, Ont. — Farmers must do their homework if they want to launch – or increase – sales to food retailers.

Jan. 21, 2014, Simcoe, Ont. — Farmers must do their homework if they want to launch – or increase – sales to food retailers.

It’s a competitive marketplace, and companies are eagerly looking for innovative ideas or unique value-added products, says economist John F.T. Scott.


He was the guest speaker at today’s Farm Credit Canada “Ag Knowledge Exchange” event held in Simcoe. About 20 growers attended.

Economist and food retailing consultant John F.T. Scott.

Stores are promoting locally sourced products more than ever and farmers can capitalize on that increased marketing attention.

Ethnic vegetables are a good example of new market opportunities. Canada’s ethnic populations are opening new opportunities by seeking non-traditional foods from their retailers. Much of this food is currently imported.

Farmers’ markets are also growing in popularity. It’s a great vehicle by which farmers can connect with consumers, says Scott.


Baby Boomers and Millennials favour locally grown foods, where possible, and they equate good food with good health. “They believe food is a medicine.”

Canadians spend about nine per cent of their disposable income on food. “We have among the lowest prices for food in the world.”

Non-traditional food retailing is a new trend. During this past festive season in London, England, for example, about 15 per cent of food sales were ordered over the Internet and delivered to consumers.

Convenience is another trend. Consumers like buying prepared foods to take home for lunch or supper, “but it has to be restaurant quality.”

Surprisingly, supermarkets are increasingly popular places for social interaction, especially among Baby Boomers. Some stores have opened cafes. “Grocery stores have become community meeting places.”


Scott served for 21 years as president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers. He is now a consultant and a highly sought-after speaker in North America, as well as the U.K., Japan and Australia.

FCC Ag Knowledge Exchange events are free educational events designed to help producers make the most of their opportunities, improve their management skills, and get information and insight from leading farm management experts.

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