On October 23 and 24, the Greenbelt Fund and Ontariofresh.ca exhibited at Grocery Innovations Canada—a two-day speciality B2B show in Toronto with over 5,600 attendees networking, and finding new business and new products within the grocery trade.
Over two days, we met exhibitors, grantees and key stakeholders from across the food value chain who were interested to learn more about how our recently upgraded Ontariofresh.ca platform, the largest online network in Ontario of local food buyers, sellers and processors, could help them enhance their business network. Between bites of pickled beets from our grantees at Sunshine Farms, endless cheese samples and other local delights, we learned about what makes our fellow exhibitors proud, what they’re excited about and what challenges they face in their daily and long-term business practices.
Visitors at our booth, and those who we chatted with at the exhibitor mix-and-mingle, expressed a common challenge with finding local food resources, opening up new markets and building reliable connections along the food value chain. They were interested to hear about the ways Ontariofresh.ca has been tailored to help them find exactly what they need, be it a product, service or a potential buyer.
Len Walker, an executive at consulting firm Work Oxygen, and sales rep for Touché bakery, was particularly interested in the ways Ontariofresh.ca opens up new markets for small food businesses by helping them connect directly with other businesses across the province.
Maria Arbulu, a Senior Agricultural Marketing Advisor with the USDA, took a tour of the platform, praising its design and functionality. Her colleague noted that Maria evaluates a lot of websites, and so her compliments aren’t given lightly. After months of developing the new Ontariofresh.ca, we certainly appreciate the positive feedback!
With over 2,500 members, Ontariofresh.ca is the largest online network in Ontario for buyers, sellers and processors of wholesale local food. Ontariofresh.ca links Ontario’s broader public sector institutions, food retailers, restaurants, caterers and agriculturally-focused service providers with local growers, producers, processors and distributors. We provide the access buyers need to source local products quickly, and the tools sellers need to get their products to market. We also make it easier to source and sell Ontario meats, cheeses, dairy, grains and other specialty items, including processed products that have at least 80% Ontario ingredients by volume.
Our team provided an easy ‘on-the-spot’ registration process at the show, allowing participants to instantly discover the many possibilities of our local food networking platform. Many expressed how helpful it was to be able to create their own free profile with ease and begin connecting to others immediately and effortlessly.
While the Grocery Innovations Canada experience was a fun and beneficial to the Greenbelt Fund and Ontariofresh.ca, the real reward was seeing new and existing users engage with the new platform. Our team at the Greenbelt Fund and Ontariofresh.ca look forward to next year’s show, and to watching the successes of our members grow along the way!