Canada’s organic market to focus on special crops in 2016

CNS Canada — The spotlight is on special crops in Canada’s organic market, as new-crop bids for 2016 start to appear.

“It’s a bit of a switch from normal,” said Laura Telford, organic sector development specialist with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development at Portage la Prairie.

Normally producers see high demand and prices for organic soybeans and wheat, but that’s not the case this year, she said.

“Maybe it’s because farmers have kind of flooded the market.”

Competing regions are also driving prices for those commodities lower as Canada imports organic grains from Argentina and Ukraine, and organic soybeans from India.

“Just from looking at the prices that are on offer right now, it seems like some of the specialty crops like organic mustard are really big,” Telford said.

Organic malt barley is another crop that’s seeing strong new-crop bids.

“Barley is a good one,” Telford said. “There’s a lot of organic craft breweries starting up, so organic malt barley has been in high demand.”

She also named organic oats and flax as crops to watch.

The organic industry has seen strong demand, but has struggled to find the producers to meet it, but that has shifted, Telford said — especially in Manitoba.

“Things have improved, particularly in the Prairies,” she said.

Telford estimated 2016 will see about a 20 per cent increase in producers transitioning to organic compared to last year in Manitoba.

Statistics Canada doesn’t collect organic acreage data, but Telford’s own estimates put last year’s seeded organic grains in Manitoba at 60,000 acres, and she expects it will increase to about 100,000 in 2016.

Jade Markus writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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