Does Local Matter?

Canadian agriculture is dependent on trade. Canada is the world’s fifth largest exporter of agriculture and agri-food products and the sixth-largest importer, making up 2.7 per cent of agriculture and agri-food imports. That’s considerable,as Canada makes up less than one per cent of the world’s population. Clearly, trade is important to Canadian agriculture.

That begs the question: does local food matter?

Of course it does! According to AAFC’s Overview of the Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food System 2014, about half of all Canadians say the location of food production matters. Few Canadians – about 1 in 6 feel it’s not important at all.

Consumers are willing to pay a premium for local foods though the size of the premium depends on the type of food. Generally, premiums are higher for fresh fruits and vegetables.

There are plenty of examples of successful farms focusing on local production. Take John and Katy Ehrlich, from Cowichan Valley, B.C. who succeed through Community Supported Agriculture.

There’s opportunity for both export and locally oriented production within agriculture. Determine who your customers are and the best way to serve their needs. Figuring this out is a key part of any business strategy.

James Bryan, Agricultural Economist