Ontario wants anyone looking to start or expand a food and beverage business to know it is open for business. With access to the US$19 trillion NAFTA market and over 400 million consumers, Ontario has an extensive transportation infrastructure to support shipping and delivery.
Craft brewing is one of the burgeoning beverage sectors in Canada. Echoing the popularity of artisan alcohol among US consumers, Canadians are enjoying a renaissance in small, locally produced beers, such as those made by microbrewery Left Field, located in Toronto. Mark and Mandie Murphy, a husband and wife brewing team, opened the brewery in 2013. Initially, Left Field did contract brewing for two other craft brewers. In February of last year, the brewery began producing and selling its own beer. Since then, it’s experienced a double-digit growth.
In addition to the growing craft brewery market, Ontario has a number of big brewers, such as Sleeman Breweries (Guelph, ON), owned by Sapporo, and Labatt . Owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, Labatt is Canada’s number one brewer, with six breweries located across the country. Even Labatt, however, has gotten into the craft market and now owns two autonomously run craft breweries, one of which is Mill Street located in Toronto.
More international food processing companies are locating in Ontario to contribute to the 3,000+ establishments making food products in the province. One of the bigger food companies to recently invest in the area is Canada Bread. Its largest bakery, located in Hamilton, ON, annually produces 113 million units on seven production lines.
The business development branch at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture estimates almost 100,000 people in the province are employed in the food manufacturing industry, with average on-the-job experience of more than 10 years.