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Food and Beverage Sector

Fruit Farmers

Toronto is the center of Ontario's $85.2 billion food and beverage sector (Toronto Public Health, Food Connections: Toward a Healthy and Sustainable Food System for Toronto, February 2010). Toronto's food and beverage sector is the largest of its kind in Canada and one of the largest in North America. In 2006, 51,590 people were employed at 2000 food and beverage manufacturing establishments in Toronto. (Canadian Business Patterns, 2010).

The success of Toronto's food and beverage industry generates growth in related industries that service the sector. Food and beverage companies rely on local packaging companies, design firms, industry equipment suppliers, biotechnologists, and temperature controlled storage and transportation to sell and market their products.

Food & Beverage Menu - Facts

  • More than half of the province's food processing takes place within the Toronto region.
  • Toronto is the major decision making centre for Canada's food and beverage industry with half of Canada’s top ranked manufacturers headquartered in the city.
  • Toronto has a large ethnic and speciality foods market generated by the city's multicultural population. As a result, Toronto's food manufacturers are at the forefront of culinary trends and product development.
  • Two-thirds of food processing companies in Toronto produce "fresh products" or serve specialty markets within the city.
  • More than a quarter of the food processing companies are in the $5 million - $50 million range. The small and medium-sized food establishments are experiencing the fastest growth and highest export potential of all companies in this sector.
  • The largest food and beverage operations, with annual sales in excess of $50 million, are mainly multi-national subsidiaries that serve markets beyond the Toronto region.

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Specialty foods

The specialty foods sub-sector is rapidly growing in importance. The demand for specialty foods reflects Toronto's vibrant multi-ethnic community and its export connections abroad. Roughly 25% of food processing plants within Toronto are making specialty products. The demand for specialty foods has grown 50% faster than the sector average of 5% and is expected to grow 12% annually over the next five years.

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Employment in Food and Beverage Industries, Toronto Region
Food Cluster Leaders

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Toronto Food Business Incubator

The Toronto Food Business Incubator (TFBI) ensures new and innovative products are continually introduced to local consumers, thus supporting entrepreneurs and teaching them the best practices of food production. Support for labour force education and training ensures that Toronto processors are producing safe, secure, and affordable food products with the assistance of government funding.

TFBI is a non-profit organization that supports small entrepreneurs interested in starting a new food company. The TFBI contains a fully licensed industrial kitchen available for rent to small food processing businesses that would otherwise have to make a large capital investment.

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Toronto Food Industry Advisory Committee

The Toronto Food Industry Advisory Committee addresses the needs of Toronto's food industry. The committee includes representatives from the city's food sector and the two other levels of government.

The information gathered from the Labour Force Readiness Plan was used to provide training to the Ontario food processing industry on the emerging issue of labour and workforce shortages. Ontario's Destination Excellence program has developed "best management" tools and resources to increase the capacity of Ontario’s food and beverage processing industry to recruit and retain workers.

Ontario Food Terminal

The Ontario Food Terminal is a unique asset, not just in the Toronto region, but in Canada. It is the largest wholesale fruit, vegetable and flower market in Canada, and one of the five largest produce markets in North America. It plays a central role in the food industry and supports grocery stores, restaurants, caterers, and florists in eastern Canada and in some American states.

Food & Consumer Products of Canada

Food & Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC) represents member companies that range in size from small independently and privately-owned companies to large, global multinationals. The FCPC strives to provide industry leadership and foster a business environment where members can compete, innovate, and sustain growth in a ethical and responsible manner.

Pick Ontario Freshness

The Pick Ontario Freshness marketing strategy focuses on building awareness and demand for fresh, high-quality foods grown and produced in Ontario. This strategy encourages consumers to purchase Ontario foods in grocery stores, farmers' markets, and restaurants across the province. The strategy includes developing economic opportunities through the Ontario Market Investment Fund (OMIF), a four-year, $12 million provincial initiative to promote consumer awareness of Ontario-produced foods.

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Employment in the Food and Beverage sector by industry.
List of the top Food and Beverage Companies in the Toronto region.
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