Opportunities to Support Farm Business Development and Local Ontario Food Across the Value Chain

Client: The Agri-food Management Institute

Expertise Applied: 

  • Food Systems Knowledge

  • Qualitative and Quantitative Research

  • Complete Value-chain Stakeholder Engagement

  • Plain Language Writing

  • Collaboration


Local food is increasingly becoming a key factor in consumer’s purchasing, thus affecting both processor’s decision-making and farmers in their opportunities to expand their businesses. In fact, the Government of Ontario has launched a local food goal, to make it easier for organizations in the broader public sector to procure locally-sourced food.

These two projects sought to:

  1. Gain a better understanding of the effectiveness of various farm business support mechanisms and regional approaches to alleviating barriers to business development

  2. Provide insights in understanding Ontario’s local food processing sector and associated supply chains

Combined, we conducted 35 interviews and surveyed 1,495 producers, food processors, and retailers. This work ultimately provides a whole value-chain perspective of how the province can boost local food competitiveness while supporting Ontario producers.

Some Highlighted Findings

Farm Business Development

96% of processors have a high or medium priority to source local, but 60% feel they cannot meet this priority.
  • Farmers want to fill gaps and diversify by finding efficiencies and investing in equipment, increasing production, acquiring land, and accessing new markets

  • Farmers face challenges accessing labour, obtaining permits, meeting regulations, and securing capital

Sourcing Local Food

  • There are barriers processors, manufacturers, and retailers face when trying to source local including; food quality and volume availability, labelling regulations, distribution/hub infrastructure, and lack of Ontario sourcing data


This work has been shared in the Ontario Farmer


  1. Boost local food competitiveness through increased scale of operations and review of on-farm regulations that limit value-add opportunities

  2. Review provincial and federal labelling regulations that enable transparency, encourage product differentiation, and support local food

  3. Investigate ways to support connections along the supply chain and reduce gaps by investing in processing infrastructure such as a province-wide co-packing strategy and prioritizing direct farm-to-consumer local marketing channels

  4. Improve the effectiveness and reach of municipal agriculture economic development

The Final Report

We’re happy to share the full reports for both projects.


*Wilton Consulting Group completed these projects with Synthesis Agri-food Network, OGBSC, and David Armitage.

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