Ontario Regional Food Hub Survey

With funding from the New Directions program of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Nourishing Communities research group has conducted two annual surveys of Ontario’s local and regional food producers, processors, distributors, and food service procurers.

OMAFRA-sponsored Ontario Regional Food Hub Survey

These surveys have enabled us to report on the current capacity of food hubs in Ontario, and recommend improvements for farmers, processors, distributors, retailers and restaurants. The ultimate goal is to help funding agencies to understand community and business needs, where funding/resource gaps exist, and how to effectively support such operations.

We heard back from 125 operations connected to food hubs and have created a series of infographics summarizing their responses. We are happy to announce that the Food Hub Infographics will be permanently available on the Nourishing Communities website in downloadable pdf format.

2016 Survey Results

The responses for the 2016 survey showed that 90% of respondents think that “local” means within 100 kms, the county, or region. Survey results also indicated that food hubs help farmers with product diversification, access to markets, and hiring. Food hubs also provide community support through paid opportunities for youth, donations to food banks, and education about food systems.

While food hubs face significant barriers to their operations, access to capital, reliable seasonal or part-time labour, and meeting regulations top the list. Significantly, while median gross annual sales fell into the $100-$250,000 range, about 25% of respondents reported that they earn less than $25,000 per year. And while the vast majority of producers, processors, and distributors wanted to grow their business, about half reported that a lack of capital prevents expansion opportunities. Respondents recognized the value of local markets for their businesses; even though more than 60% of sales reported are already going into local markets, almost all respondents (95%) wanted to increase local sales. More details to follow.

For questions about this project, please contact Dr. Alison Blay-Palmer: ablaypalmer@wlu.ca.