Supporting Local, Fresh Food
The Ontario government has invested $65 million to promote fresh, local Ontario foods since 2003. The investment has resulted in increased consumer awareness of, interest in and demand for the breadth of available fresh, local, Ontario foods. This supports food promotions, local farmers, processors, rural economies and the environment.
- The Foodland Ontario program has expanded to cover dairy, eggs and meats both in-store and in farmers' markets. The program, in partnership with grower groups, increases awareness and encourages retailers to devote increased square footage to Ontario foods.
- Retail services staff identify and promote Ontario foods in grocery stores through the distribution of point-of-purchase material and in-store promotions in 1,200 stores across the province.
- Brand services staff encourage media support for Ontario-grown food products through the development and distribution of media releases, newsletters and broadcast appearances.
- Client services staff work closely with commodity groups and associations to share information, encourage co-operation and participation in specific activities and use of the Foodland symbol in their own marketing efforts.
- Savour Ontario is designed to promote Ontario foods in participating fine and vacation dining establishments across the province.
- More than 100 restaurants participate in Savour Ontario promotions.
ONTARIO MARKET INVESTMENT FUND
- The four-year Ontario Market Investment Fund, launched in 2008, is helping agri-food industry groups and local food networks promote consumer awareness of Ontario-produced foods and encourage Ontarians to buy locally.
- A total of $5 million has supported more than 100 projects so far.
- The program is helping develop opportunities through trade events, marketing campaigns and industry research initiatives that foster partnerships and collaboration to promote Ontario foods.
- Projects include:
- Weetabix of Canada is working with the Ontario Wheat Producers' Marketing Board to make more consumers aware of the fact that Weetabix is a 100 per cent Ontario grown and manufactured product. Between November 2009 and January 2010, the company mounted a multi-media promotion across the Greater Toronto Area, including in-store sampling events, radio and billboard advertising, and branding the people-powered 'Eco-Cabs' in downtown Toronto. The Province contributed $50,000 to the project.
- St. Lawrence College, along with other eastern Ontario colleges and partners, envisions a collaborative network to create a "Virtual Artisanal Cheese Research Centre." Funding of $20,000 from the program is going toward a market study to guide the research and development of the centre.
- Southshore Broadcasting Inc. produced an ongoing 30-minute television series entitled "Essex Uncorked" featuring members of the Southwestern Ontario Vintners Association. Each program in the series profiled local wineries with local food growers, processors, retailers and restaurants. The series was broadcast between July and September 2009 with re-broadcast in October and December 2009. The Province contributed $100,000 to this project.
ONTARIO FARMERS' MARKET STRATEGY
- In June, 2008, the Ontario government announced $4 million over four years to help people buy food directly from Ontario farmers. The funding is helping Farmers' Markets Ontario and the Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association work with farmers to sell fresh, local food. These organizations support government's efforts in developing sector leadership, building consumer awareness and building producer capacity.
- Farmers Markets Ontario:
- Increased member markets to more than 150 - up 14 markets in 2009.
- Launched MyPick program, which verifies that vendors at markets are the growers of the produce they are selling.
- Helped create 83 farmers markets websites
- Increased awareness of safe food handling and preparation. Worked with Dietitians of Canada and the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care to distribute 90,000 'EatRight Ontario' brochures.
- Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association:
- Added 75 new members in the Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association, bringing the total of registered on-farm markets to more than 300.
- Created a new website that lets consumers search by location on a map, by postal code, by type of food or product offered, or by attraction.
- Other government support for local food initiatives include: