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Why Ontario

An extensive transportation network of five international airports, 13 Canada custom airports, and 14 road, 7 rail and marine borders crossing to the U.S. connect the province with markets in North America and around the globe.  Ontario Food Cluster communities are located within two hours of the U.S.

The Ontario Food Cluster works across the province to research locations that offer your business that most strategic fit.  At the Ontario Food Cluster, our job is to help you make the best decisions for the growth and prosperity of your business.

Benefits of Ontario

  • Researchers and innovators work in over 55 university and college programs from an estimated 25 institutions concentrating on agriculture, food science, nutritional science and culinary arts. 
  • University and colleges in Ontario offer a variety of co-operative and on-site learning opportunities for their students to interact directly with Ontario’s agri-food companies.
  • Ontario has very successful food incubator and commercialization facilities such as Guelph Food Innovation Centre, Vineland Research, District Ventures Kitchen, and Ontario Agri-food Venture Centre.
  • Over 60 percent of the population has completed secondary school education or higher.
  • Ontario is the largest province in population with a location well over 14 million residents.
  • Daily two-way goods trade between Ontario and U.S. is 2017 was valued at $966 million (CAD)
  • An extensive transportation infrastructure allows for quick access to over 460 million consumers in North America and beyond.
  • Millennials (age 18 to 34) are the largest generation in the urban populations within the province.
  • Through Canada’s diversity immigration policies, Ontario has over 150 different languages spoken.
  • Manufacturing revenues from the agri-food industry currently total more than $48 billion.
  • Agri-Food exports total $16.6 billion in 2019
  • Agri-food and beverage manufacturing sector has over 106,000 jobs
  • Retail food and beverage sales total $46.5 billion from stores in Ontario in 2019
  • Home to 49,600 farms growing over 200 commodities

Did you know Ontario…

  • Is Canada’s largest province by population
  • Agri-food and beverage sector is a top employer with 740,000 jobs
  • Manufacturing revenues from the agri-food industry currently total more than $36.9 billion
  • Retail grocery sales total $106 billion from grocery stores ($86 billion), non-traditional food stores ($15 billion) and ethnic food stories ($5 billion)
  • Food exports total $12.5 billion
  • Researchers, industry employees and agricultural innovators have built a stellar reputation for reliable, sustainable sources of raw materials, state of-the- art automated food processing methods and food safety standards
  • Has 52,000 farms, it’s rich agricultural lands produces more than 230 agricultural commodities

Global Reputation for Food Quality of Access to over 460 Million Consumers

Canada’s largest province by population with over 13.4 million residents is known for its reputation for food quality and access to over 460 million North American consumers through the order United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that has nearly tripled trade between Canada and the United States.  The agri-food and beverage sector are one of Ontario’s top employers with over 860,000 jobs.  More than _106,000 people in Ontario work directly in agri-food processing.

In 2014, Canada signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union, opening Canada up to the largest economy in the world.  With CETA, 98% of European Union’s agricultural tariffs will be duty-free to Canadian businesses.

Research, innovators and employees have built Ontario’s stellar reputation for sustainable sources of agricultural raw materials, state-of-the-art automated food processing and world-class food safety standards.  Ontario agri-food companies tap into a renewable resource of annual graduates from more than 55 university and college programs from 25 institutions concentrating on agriculture, food science, nutritional science and the culinary arts.

The Ontario Food Cluster benefits from Canada’s high R&D and economic profile.  Canada is the first G20 member to have made itself a tariff-free zone for manufacturers by eliminating tariffs on inputs, machinery and equipment.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) gives companies operating in Canada preferential access to one of the largest trading blocs in the world, including key markets in Asia and Latin America.

Canada has also signed a number of trade agreements with countries in Central and South America meaning that importing and exporting of goods can move smoothly.

Canadian R&D Tax Incentives among Most Generous in the World

Canada’s R&D tax incentive program is one of the most generous in the world.  When tax credits are factored in, the after-tax cost per $100 of R&D spending is reduced to $41.  Canada supports private-sector innovation through a number of programs (link to incentive page).  The result is that businesses in Canada enjoy the lowest R&D costs in the G7, and overall R&D costs for businesses in Canada are 10.7% lower than the United States.

49,600 Farms /
669 Certified Organic
Billion in Annual Food Export Dollars
$106 Billion in Commercial / Retail Grocery Sales
230 Agricultural Communities

Ontario is home to 49,600 farms including a growing number of organic, sustainable sourced and ethical farms.  Due to the unique soil types found in the Province, Ontario farms are able to produce over 200 different commodities and numerous varieties of each commodity (link to Ontario’s commodity list on OMAFRA).

Ontario-Canada’s Globally Cost-Competitive Economy

The list of reasons to invest in the Ontario Food Cluster starts with Canada’s exceptional economic fundamentals.  Canada means lower costs, according to KPMG Competitive Alternatives 2016 Report, Canada ranks second in the Top 10 countries with the lowest businesses’ costs ahead of Germany, Japan, and the United States.  The KPMG Report found that Canada cost of doing business was 14.6 percent lower than the United States.

One of reasons these lower costs in Canada is universal health care which means that employer health care costs are 50% lower compared to the United States.  Ontario boasts one of the world’s best and most cost-effective health care systems. The Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) provides excellent coverage to all residents at little cost to the individual and at surprisingly low costs to the government (in 2007, the U.S. spent approximately 16 percent of GDP on health care, compared to 9.1 percent in Canada).

The universal health care system is one of the contributing factors that reduce the cost of operating a business in Ontario, helping to sustain one of the lowest payroll taxes and benefit deduction rates in North America.

In the KPMG Report Canada ranked

  • 1st in corporate tax rates
  • 2nd in labour
  • 2nd in transportation
  • 2nd in manufacturing
  • 3rd in facility costs; and
  • 3rd in R&D costs.

Canada has continued to outperform peers in terms of job creation, economic growth, income growth and debt-to-GDP ratio.

Canada a Lead on the Global Stage

United Nations’ Human Development Report ranks Canada in the top ten nations for quality of life (based on life expectancy, education, and real income)

Add Canada ranks in global studies, are there any to add?

Ontario has one of the most diverse populations in the world

Canada has designed its immigration provisions with business in mind.  The Canadian government understands that to be successful you need your team on the ground, that is why the corporations are allowed to transfer their senior personnel to Canada with very little red tape.

Canada Sound Banking System

Canada is also among just a handful of nations in the world with a triple-A credit rating.  This provides assurance to business investors about the security of their direct investments in the Ontario Food Cluster.

Canada’s business operating costs are the second lowest in the G-7 and five percent lower than those in the U.S., according to the most recent KPMG analysis.