HomeIncreasing Food Security in Northern Ontario through a Local Supply Chain Research Project

Increasing Food Security in Northern Ontario through a Local Supply Chain Research Project

13 December 2023
  • Hearst
  • Kapuskasing
  • Nipissing
  • Sudbury
  • Timmins
Forklift carries crates of apples in a container
Five regional partners are exploring Northern Ontario’s agri-food supply chains to address gaps and focus on local production.

Collège Boréal, the Northern Ontario Farm Innovation Alliance (NOFIA), the Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN), the Greater Sudbury Food Policy Council (GSFPC), and the Thunder Bay + Area Food Strategy (TBAFS) have partnered to develop a research project to study local food supply processes in Northern Ontario communities.

The three-year project, which runs until May 31, 2026, will help identify barriers to local food supply for this vast region’s producers, processors and buyers. This project will also develop and test processes that will bridge the gap between these stakeholders while promoting an economically sustainable food production chain and providing the current and future workforce with knowledge about local food sourcing.

Thanks to an investment of nearly $360,000 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the project’s partners will be better equipped to assist local producers and processors in gaining easier access to buyers in their region. They will also provide practical solutions to the challenges of local food supply in Northern Ontario.

This project allows Collège Boréal to use its research expertise, facilities and extensive network of partners to study a specific issue affecting all Northern Ontarians. Ultimately, the results of this research will help reduce the environmental impact of transporting our food and stimulate the economies of our regions through new opportunities for local food supply.
We are very pleased to be collaborating with Collège Boréal once again. By studying place-based local food procurement interventions and identifying areas for future development to fill gaps in the supply chain, we hope to nurture the growth of local businesses while cultivating a future where bountiful harvests and sustainable agri-food products in Northern Ontario flourish.
Together with our key partners, we're launching a vital initiative to connect local agri-food producers with prominent wholesale buyers in Northern Ontario. Through collective research, support, and strategic partnerships, we're forging a path for a prosperous future for our region's agri-food businesses.
This project contributes to the Greater Sudbury Food Policy Council's current post-COVID analysis of our food system. Local/regional producer-processor-buyer chains are key components of an equitable and sustainable system. Our collaboration and communication amongst food system components, across businesses, community organizations, individuals, and government, will benefit from this initiative.
This endeavor fortifies the Thunder Bay + Area Food Strategy's commitment to bolstering local food procurement in Northern Ontario. Through collaborative efforts, we're dismantling barriers that hinder buyers and sellers alike, fostering a thriving local food ecosystem. This study's results will guide our strategic focus, enabling us to improve and/or unlock new avenues of local food procurement, ultimately cultivating resilience and vitality within our regional food system.
Quick facts
  • More than 750,000 Ontarians, or one in ten of the province’s labour force, are employed throughout the agri-food supply chain.
  • Northern Ontario has approximately 711,000 acres of farmland, with about 696,500 acres in production in the northern districts of Kenora, Rainy River, Thunder Bay, Algoma, Manitoulin Island, Cochrane, Timiskaming, Sudbury and Nipissing (2021 Census).
  • By 2032, Ontario’s goal is to increase:
    • Consumption of food grown and prepared in Ontario by 30%
    • Production of food grown and prepared in Ontario by 30%
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