Ontario ginseng producers on a mission for sales, profile

Canada’s clean, green and pristine image is once again serving our export markets well, this time in the ginseng market.

Ginseng demand is on the rise in Asia, where it’s coveted for its health benefits. Ontario ginseng, which thrives in the province's ideal growing conditions, is gaining an export reputation for its consistency and quality. 

Poised for growth

Export sales reached almost $240 million in 2016 and are  poised to grow further, thanks to support for the ginseng industry from the federal government and an Ontario trade mission currently underway.

One participant is Remi Van De Slyke of Kinglake Farms, a leading ginseng grower in the Simcoe area. He says prospects are looking good.

“We have a lot of interest with new and existing customers,” he says from China. “Our ginseng has a great reputation for high quality and we are well known as the ginseng of choice.”

The industry received a boost last week when Ottawa announced $420,000 in support for the Ontario Ginseng Growers Association.

Strengthening expansion

Funds go to help create new markets, and develop a social media and marketing campaign that highlights how to use ginseng in products such as soups, teas and cosmetics.

The association already takes measures to have a profile abroad by way of sponsoring dragon boat races in Hong Kong and receiving an endorsement for ginseng smoothies from a well-known Taiwanese athlete. 

The federal support will help increase that presence. 

More growers

Growers are coming on stream to help meet demand. Membership in the OGGA has steadily increased to 160 members, from 120 three years ago.

Van De Slyke says through social media that growers want to try to reach a younger audience and promote health and wellness. They’ve been encouraged by their early online efforts, and with the new federal support, they’ll increase their presence.

Ontario has the largest production of North American ginseng in the world. 

Bottom line

Farmers seize the opportunity, and more growers come on stream to expand the ginseng market, in Ontario, Canada and in Asia.

Article by: Owen Roberts