Ont. backs “Ontario Natural” brand

The latest round of funding through Ontario’s Market Investment Fund program includes $100,000 toward development of a “natural” food co-op’s private-label brand.

The four-year fund has so far invested over $2.5 million in 46 market development, research and promotion projects for Ontario foods. The latest round, announced Friday, includes 11 such projects.

For example, the Ontario Natural Food Co-op (ONFC) will get $100,000 to “develop a process to identify, evaluate, prioritize and plan for its ‘Ontario Natural’ line of food products and categories on behalf of the Ontario Natural Food Co-op’s customers and suppliers.”

“Ontario Natural,” the province said, “is a brand with which local consumers will become familiar in the future.”

ONFC’s product roster so far includes its Ontario Natural Food Co-op brand tomatoes, which it describes online as “grown on Ontario family farms, manufactured at a nearby cannery and sold to ONFC for distribution in Ontario.”

The co-op markets its tomatoes as reducing “food miles” for cleaner air, nurturing a “healthy food system” and strengthening local economies.

Funding granted in this round also includes $5,000 for the Newmarket Main Street Farmers’ Market, for “a fresh media campaign using local newspapers, radio and website to showcase local products produced and sold in the region.”

The Newmarket market celebrates its 10th anniversary this season, the province noted.

Other project funding announced from the Market Investment Fund in this round includes:

  • $9,000 for Taste of the Valley, a showcase for local food vendors in three communities in the County of Renfrew;
  • $39,025 for Fifth Town Artisan Cheese in Prince Edward County to encourage customer traffic through web and print advertising as well as market research through “social media channels;”
  • $40,000 for promotions for Kawartha Choice FarmFresh, a local-food campaign backed also by the Greater Peterborough Area Economic Development Corporation;
  • $20,500 for Taste of Huron, a local-food showcase event Aug. 24-30 in Huron County;
  • $79,500 for the Guelph Culinary Taste Trail, an extension of the “Grow Guelph” brand, to connect local food and tourism destinations;
  • $57,950 for a “marketing blitz” by Harmony Organic Dairy Products of Listowel, promoting its local organic milk;
  • $3,500 for the Ontario Cheese Society’s artisan cheese marketplace and tasting event, held April 28 at the University of Toronto’s Hart House;
  • $50,000 for promotions to support eight major “culinary events” highlighting local farms, chefs and artisans focused on local food through the “Savour Muskoka” initiative; and
  • $20,000 for Local Food Plus to use polls and focus groups to find “consumers’ appetite” for local, sustainable food and develop messages to promote same.


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