New FCC Survey Suggests Canadians Don’t Put Their Money Where Their Mouths Are When it Comes to Food Choices – July 13, 2011

Regina SK –  A new survey sponsored by Farm Credit Canada (FCC) shows that despite a preference for buying Canadian food products, many consumers don’t put their money where their mouth is. Yet Canadians are privileged to pay some of the lowest prices in the world for safe, high-quality food.

According to the spring survey, 95% of respondents agree that purchasing locally grown food is a priority or a preference; however, only 43% are willing to pay more for food grown locally.

Similarly, 96% of respondents indicate a preference for purchasing Canadian products, yet only 41% are willing to pay more for them.

“I’m not surprised by the survey results,” says FCC Senior Agriculture Economist Jean-Philippe Gervais. “Purchasing decisions are often driven by price. What Canadians might not realize is that average Canadian household spending on food as a portion of the total household budget has decreased from 19% in the 1960s to 10% in 2009, according to statistics from Statistics Canada and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.”

If respondents have a personal connection* to agriculture or have visited a farm, purchasing locally grown or Canadian products is more likely to be a priority, and they are also willing to pay more for them.

*Indicates the respondent knows someone who owns or works on a farm or an agribusiness.

Know someone in agriculture

Do not know someone in agriculture

Locally grown products
Purchasing locally grown products is a priority and are willing to pay more for them



Canadian products
Purchasing Canadian products is a priority and are willing to pay more for them




Have visited a farm

Have never visited a farm

Locally grown products
Purchasing locally grown products is a priority and are willing to pay more for them



Canadian products
Purchasing Canadian products is a priority and are willing to pay more for them



“In Canada, we have a sweet deal,” says FCC President and CEO Greg Stewart. “We’re fortunate that our farmers and food processors produce safe, high-quality food at some of the lowest prices in the world. I think that it would benefit the industry and our customers if the public knew more about the business of agriculture, and recognized that agriculture is big, dynamic and complex. This industry truly matters to the Canadian economy and to Canadians.”

This country’s agriculture and agri-food industry employs one in eight people in Canada and feeds people around the world through exports to nearly 200 countries.

Other survey highlights:

  • Consumers from Ontario were more likely to state that purchasing locally grown and Canadian products (46% and 47% respectively) is a priority and they are willing to pay more for them compared to consumers across other provinces.
  • If annual income was greater than $100,000, respondents were more likely to indicate that purchasing locally grown products (53%) and Canadian products (49%) is a priority and that they are willing to pay more.
  • Shoppers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (66%) were more likely than others to state that they like purchasing Canadian products, but are not willing to pay more for them compared to other respondents.

“FCC is deeply committed to the success of Canadian agriculture and intends to do more work to help educate the public about the industry,” Stewart says.


About the survey
From March 8 to March 10, an online survey was conducted among a sample of 2,015 Canadians who are Angus Reid Forum panel members. The margin of error on the full base — which measures sampling variability — is +/- 2.1%. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. To view more survey results, including comparisons by age and province, visit

As Canada’s leading agriculture lender, FCC is advancing the business of agriculture. With a healthy portfolio of more than $20 billion and 17 consecutive years of portfolio growth, FCC is strong and stable – committed to serving the industry through all cycles. FCC provides financing, insurance, software, learning programs and other business services to producers, agribusinesses and agri-food operations. FCC employees are passionate about agriculture and committed to the success of customers and the industry. For more information, visit

Homestead Organics


  1. Too many people in our area are running for the border to buy factory farm milk and franken turkeys. While the American food industries are capable of incredible efficiencies because of volume, there is little oversight to protect the public. By the time a problems is found thousands of people are sickened.

  2. At one time I would have agreed with you Reg but today most milk and milk products sold in the US are stamped as “Artificial Growth Hormone FREE” as are some of the meats we can purchase in the US supermarkets. Price-wise they can’t be beat, e.g., skinless/boneless chicken breasts at $1.99/lb and 4 litres of milk for $2.29. And yes Reg, we saw that big load of frozen chicken that the Customs seized at the border, it was labelled as “UNFIT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION” and was destined to Chinese restaurants in the Montreal area. That might have sickened thousands.

  3. Unfortunately, it is not mentioned that people have to be aware now of GM produce. I myself read the codes of all produce I buy. I am guessing the problems with Canadians and especially in Ontario, with high costs of gas, HST and electric, they are feeling the crunch. Otherwise they would pay the higher prices for produce. To drive to a farm means “gas” for “some” people like myself who is on a tight budget when it comes to running my vehicles and using it only when necessary. People are suffering financially and no one talks about it. And, yes, I agree with Reg, too many people are running to the border but do not realize the food sold over the border is less safe. And, with the cost of gas, are they really saving?

  4. Depends what you are buying in the States Stan, Monsanto has been controlling farmer’s much longer there than here in Canada. A lot of produce has been grown from genetically modified seed, as far as chicken, have you watched Food. Inc.? Can’t believe all labels either. The U.S. has been known for having lower food safety then Canada, although I know now they are picking up and its about time.

  5. Perhaps less legislation of how farmers handle foods would save a few dollars and make it more simplisitc for farmers.

    Dianne and Reg
    I have been buying poultry from a farm near Kingstom for quite some time it is absolutely amazing. The farmer has explained the rules they must follow when raising the rafter, or clutch as well as the eggs. It is absolutely mad and explains why it costs so much. I am not meaning to be rude to people on a budget but there is no way that some could afford the food itself let alone the cost of gas.

    It is almost as it was when I was growing up, our trips tot he farm are few between just because we couldn’t afford the luxury of meats at all meals. Grocery carts were never heaping with supplies either. We never had oranges in summer and some apples could only be purchased in certain seasons. Not so much like that anymore now.

    Legislation and government regulations are what makes it hard for people. I can understand why people travel to the US to but foods. The cost of gas offsets the cost of the poor quality foods sold locally.

    Local farmers aside as they always have good foods and I love tasting their wares in the fall.

  6. “The cost of gas offsets the cost of the poor quality foods sold locally.”????

    What are you trying to say here Hailey? It reads like that it is worth the cost of gas to travel to the US because Canadian foods are poor quality. Canadian foods are the highest quality and are the safest in the world. The industry only fails when it tries to emulate the US system.

  7. That is pretty much what I am saying Reg. I hate to dispute your post but our food is no where near the quality sold in other developed countries.

    The meat is so tough and dry it appears to have been in a health spa most of growth.

    Vegetables, why in Canada do we pay more for a red peper then a green pepper? First of all a Green Pepper is not all that healthy as it is merely an unripened fruit. Have you ever picked a fresh peach from the tree? They are not like the rocks sold in th stores. How about the apples we get locally from the orchards when they are in season? They are crisp and either tart or sweet but always juicy. Rarely do we find that in our stores even in peak season.

    I am not sure where you live but take as it is summer you should take a wekend trip to Toronto or Montreal and even Ottawa and shop in the markets.

    You can also speak to visitors from Europe and see what they think of our quality of food….it is not as good as you might think.

  8. Sorry Hailey but you are decidedly wrong on every count. I lived for 35 years in Toronto and worked in the food industry for all those years. Yes the produce during off season is better there simply because they are closer to the Food Terminal where imported fruits and vegetables arrive. Yes mangoes, oranges and other tropical fruit are better in the country of origin but you can’t beat an Ontario apple in September or a local strawberry in June or peaches and blueberries in August.

    As far as the meat goes, perhaps you should let someone else cook for you. I think your complaint is with the grocers not the food industry or farmers. Canadian farm fresh produce in season is some of the best in the world and our meats are the highest quality and produced without growth hormones.

  9. Maybe the trick is to only buy veggies and fruits when they’re in season. What boggles my mind is that most of our apple juice and garlic comes from China. Most of our lamb comes from New Zealand. We’ve demanded, for the last half century, to have a limitless variety of food for super cheap prices, so the quality (taste) can’t help but be compromised. Up until WWII a family would be quite happy if they had enough turnips and such stored in the basement to get through the winter.

  10. Reg
    If Canada has top quality foods why do we have such an issue with obesity and so many illnesses becoming more prominent?
    Why does Canada not use goats milk not used rather than from beef? There is no need to neither pasteurize and many of the bacteria found in beef is not a problem with a goat.

    If you had truly worked in the food industry you would know that the distance from a terminal to the stores is of little consequence. The majority of produce we are sold here was picked and stored a year past then ripened according to necessity. That is also why our foods rot before ripening. Local produce by the average farmer are the only distributors that need worry about location to the terminal.

    As for my cooking ability, you need not be an ass. If you need to cook your meal before determining the quality of the meat might I suggest you begin to order out?

  11. I’m kinda with Hailey as far as buying beef in any form from the big grocery stores. It almost glows in the dark with all the coloring added to it. Factory farm produced beef, pork and chicken may be cheap but I wouldn’t feed it to my family if I had a choice. That’s easy for me to say because I raise my own grass fed drug-free beef.

  12. I personally check all labeling on food and dry goods. Preference is always given to, in order of importance to us, products produced locally, in Ontario then in Canadian. Yes we do buy items produced in other countries. We often pay more for making choices which support our Canadian producers and growers. The benefits in maintaining a local and National Economy and to respecting our environment are well worth the additional costs of these decisions.

  13. The choice for the quality of the food you buy is there. You can buy the regular beef from the local grocery store or you can buy your meat from a farmer’s market like Landsdown which has the organic grass feed beef. The choice is yours. And Furtz, I hate to tell you but Hailey includes you and your grass fed beef in her diatribe against all foods Canadian.

    Hailey, if you had actually went to any of the stores in Toronto you would know that the local fruit and vegetable vendors went to the Food Terminal every day to hand select their product. That’s why they always had the best available. It is difficult for someone in Cornwall, Brockville or Kingston to travel that distance on a daily basis. Obesity has nothing to do with the quality of the foods available in Canada. It is about food selection and marketing and education. If you doubt my qualifications in the food industry I would be more than happy to provide you with a detailed account of my work experience and education. I would gladly compare my training and experience in food science and culinary arts to anyone in the area.

  14. Hilarious! As a devout Pastafarian, I only wear the strainer while partaking of the Holy One (eating spaghetti).
    For Pastafarians, every day is a day to rejoice!
    All Hail The Flying Spaghetti Monster!!

  15. We can’t afford locally-grown food, hence the trips to the US where it’s much cheaper to shop..

  16. Reg, It is true that goats have been providing good milk and meat to humanity for thousands of years. They are way more efficient at converting feed to food than cattle are. They make good pets too.

  17. I am well aware of the use of goats milk and meat. There is a fantastic dairy in Orangeville that makes the best goat cheese and there is nothing in this world like curried goat in a roti….mmmmmm curried goat in a roti.

    While I worked for Canada Packers Research Centre they used to slaughter sheep and goats at the Hunneyset plant across the street. The ethnic community used to line up to get their meat especially at Easter. It was quite common to see a group of Greeks or middle eastern peoples in the parks roasting a whole goat or lamb on a spit over an open fire.

  18. Reg
    I see no need for you to so arrogant. You skirt issues and the main focus of the topic of discussion or attempt at a redirect of what is said.

    Do you deny that the produce we buy is about a year old and picked before it is ready? How do you think they justify pricing foods based on weather? Just look at your oranges then compare it ot the temperatures where it was grown. Thick skin cold season, thin skin warm season

    I am not speaking about local farmers and picking season which seems to be your limitation and reason.

    As for furtz if he or she grows food naturally then they know exactly what I mean by poor quality food. It does not refer to them. But I digress you seem to be seeking support by misquoting.

    I took some time to see who you are, Interesting toy you have for cold brewing coffee, however your beans are a little fine and the process is slightly askew. You cannot drip cold water through a carafe of gourd beans hoping it will work; soaking for a minimum of twelve to fourteen hours is the best way to extract the full flavour as well as minimize bitterness and the side effect of coffee which is often acid reflux and or indigestion.

    I would truly be interested to know where in the food industry you have worked. Post it if it is true as you have nothing to hide.


  19. Reg
    I have seen how we slaughter animals here and it would be more like abuse *l* however I am going back to stories of then Aero Meat Packers ( spelling could be incorrect as it has been some time) followed by what we taught in school. You do not bludgeon an animal to death.

    A good friend of the family who has since passed was an employee for Schneider’s; he had talked often how over the years our selection of processing the meat products declined as well. It was all about getting it to the customer not what is best for the customer

    People would still bar b cue meat over a fire if it the food was healthier and legislation and safety wouldn’t intervene. It is as I mentioned earlier, speak with people from abroad about food quality, what we are forced to consume would not be tolerated in other developed countries.

  20. Thank you for visiting my web site Hailey and I appreciate the information on my cold brewing process. As I said in my post it is a new toy and I am still playing with it. As it is, it produces a very interesting process which I am enjoying. With your suggestions it may prove to be even better.

    Now as far as skirting the issues, if you read the topic of the post, it is about buying locally grown food. I agree what imported produce is picked before it is ripe and shipped large distances with the expectation that it will ripen in transit. All the more reason to buy local and in-season. Since oranges do not grow here the options to getting thin skinned fruit are buying directly from a grower and have the oranges shipped overnight or go to Florida or California. Both are prohibitatively expensive. If people are driving to the States to save money on milk, how are they going to afford thin skinned oranges.

    Concerning my qualifications in the food industry, you have stated that you believe that I am lying. As I have said in a previous post I am more than willing to compare my training and experience in food science and culinary arts to anyone in the area. If you are truly interested you can come to my both at the Long Sault Farmer’s Market on any Friday from 2 PM to 6 PM until Thanksgiving. I have nothing to hide.

  21. They save money on things like milk, meat products paper products as well as some canned goods. That is how the save money to buy oranges.

    Reg you seem to be missing the point on oranges. It has little to do with who you buy from but more on the type of weather during the season. They like many other fruits and veggies ripen in temperate silos and barns. As well why do we pay more for green or un-ripened peppers then we do for yellow or red peppers? I mean even if grown locally.

    Locally grown fruit such as peaches and berries are rarely as soft and tender or juicy as they should be. I have tried fruits from trees in BC and SW Ontario and its noting like what we are sold as locally grown goods again small farmers excluded. Just visit Farm Boy and try a locally grown Ontario Peach, Plum or other fruit. Did they need to travel once around the globe to ripen? They are best used as a baseball.

    Shall we discuss the new still running craze on Canola oil, Growing Canola is or was quite a challenge.
    As a seedling canola is easily over come by weeds and other plant life and cannot survive. What has been done to address this issue (generalizing names for simplicity) was to create a seed that would grow with the introduction of trace amounts of weed killer or killex if you like. As each strain of plant matured the amount of weed killer was increased for the next growth.
    This was done to allow farmers to spray insecticides and weed killers on the seedlings and mature plants so as not to kill the plants but decimate the weeds. I am not trying to say they are rabidly poisoning us but when you see the fields in Alberta with their blooms bright and yellow and the scent is n the air knowing this…..would that not make you question if our food practices are any better then the US? Killex is in our cooking oil and steroids and antibiotics in our meats.

    I would love to sit and chat about foods and your experiences with Maple Leaf foods, but after seeing some of the discussions here and how you replied on occasion I doubt it will happen

    I do wish you a lot of luck and success on your coffee business as it is quite the challenging market, with so many people actually thinking Tim Horton’s is real coffee *s*

    Good Luck Reg

  22. I have to admit that if I had to slaughter my own meat I would be a vegetarian. Unfortunately to meet the demands of the mass markets the animals have to be treated rather inhumanely. Ever since they closed the stock yards in Toronto, where the meat packer mentioned in the article is located, they have had to truck the animals in as required. There are no facilities to hold them and calm them before slaughter. They have built a shopping mall complete with a home depot where the stock yards used to be and, even though Canada Packers is gone, there are still several smaller meat processors.

    Basically, there is no benefit to the processors to handle the pigs in this way. A stressed pig will create PSE (pale soft and exudative) pork which is not as valued as regular pork meat.

    I truly believe that this incident is an aberration but OMAFRA or Agriculture Canada or CFIA or OSPCA should investigate and demand that the meat packers take action to prevent this situation from happening again and possibly fine them.

    In a more agrarian society where you buy what is available or grown in the immediate area there would be no need for this type of mistreatment of animals. But we are what we are and animals must be trucked to the larger population. I am just grateful that I now live in an area that has great farmer’s markets and I have the option to buy local where I can get to know my meat provider. I have the opportunity to judge the personality of the vendor and extrapolate that to how humanely they treat their animals.

  23. The treatment of these animals is totally unforgivable. If the meat packers don’t have the proper facilities to receive and handle the animals humanely, they should be shut down. That’s pretty basic stuff.

  24. I agree Furtz. I don’t think there is a place for slaughter houses in large communities anymore. The abattoirs should be located where the farms are. There would be less stress on the animals and it is cheaper to ship cleaned and dressed meat than live animals.

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