The Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy is excited to be carrying out a major Priority Project of our 2015 Implementation Plan: The Thunder Bay Food and Agriculture Market Study. With the support of 13 local agricultural associations and economic development organizations, the market study will provide a comprehensive picture of the local food economy in Thunder Bay and the surrounding area. The Food Strategy Coordinator spoke with CBC's Lisa Laco about the purpose and goals of the study. Listen here.
Currently, there is a critical shortage of information regarding the agri-food sector within the Thunder Bay area. A number of major studies have certainly provided a broad picture of agriculture in Northwestern Ontario and have demonstrated the importance of the agriculture sector for the regional economy. However, while our community has information regarding the importance of agriculture as an economic driver, there is little information that would assist in the growth of agricultural businesses.
The Market Study will fill the gap left by insufficient information by producing a detailed analysis of Thunder Bay’s food economy. Specifically, the market study will discover the demand for locally grown and processed food by sector. Research will be conducted on the size of the existing market as well as the types and volumes of locally grown food being processed and purchased. Additionally, the market study will determine critical price points, general purchasing habits and preferences, and the overall patterns of consumption. Further, the market study will seek to determine the interest in and capacity for procuring more locally grown and processed foods. The market study will conduct research by sector to give a more context-specific overview of the local food system.
The results of the study won’t only provide a greater understanding of the demand for local food in Thunder Bay, but they will also provide insight into opportunities for supplying the local market. The gathered information will enable farmers and other food businesses to act on locally relevant information to create strategies for expansion, better plan for future growing seasons, strategically construct business plans, and connect with other food businesses to better supply market demand and develop efficiencies. Furthermore, banks can make use of the data to issue loans, government officials can better understand and support local businesses, farmers can plan their crops for future growing seasons, and economic development organizations can better target funding opportunities and effectively evaluate business proposals. In the long term, the market study is expected to support local job creation and retention while boosting economic activity within the agri-food sector through the expansion of current farming and processing businesses and the development of new businesses to fill gaps in the market.
This project was funded in part through Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.