The South Central Ontario Region comprised of Brant, Elgin, Middlesex, Norfolk and Oxford counties, is a leader in agricultural production and food processing.
This region makes up over 10% of the overall production for most livestock and crops in the Province and 40% of the total vegetable crops in Ontario (1).
Within the region over 50% of the following crops for the Province (1).
- Green peas (57%)
- Green or wax beans (54%)
- Peppers (58%)
- Squash and zucchini (61%)
- Asparagus (producing areas) (78%)
- Ginseng (97%)
Counties in SCOR are the leading producers in certain crops such as Norfolk County being the leading producer of strawberries and ginseng and Elgin County being the leading producer of cucumbers (1).
According to the Dollars and Sense report, current food imports in Ontario are around 20 billion per year with a 50%+ growth potential of foods that could be grown in Ontario, for Ontario (3)
The region is home to agricultural know how and expertise that has been honed over generations of farm production. Producers within the counties of Brant, Elgin, Middlesex, Norfolk and Oxford are innovative, hardworking and have built relationships and developed strong agricultural networks. Driving through the agricultural countryside you will notice signs proudly claiming membership to such organizations as the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA). SCOR farms represent 16% of OFA farm families across the Province (2).
SCOR is also home to and in close proximity to universities doing research in agriculture and agri-food such as Western University, University of Guelph, Fanshawe College and the Simcoe Research station.
The region is also home to a growing food processing market with exports primarily going to the U.S. and with the increased demand for local food and local food products (4). Ontario as a whole has the largest food and beverage processed in Canada (5).
SCOR is well positioned for food processing as it is served by road networks with 3 major highways that move people and freight across the Province as well as into the US markets, competitive corporate tax rates in North America, rich agricultural production, research institutions in food and agriculture, and a larger consumer base (5).
Larger urban centres, such as London, Brantford and St Thomas that are located in the SCOR boundaries are home to major food processors such as Cargill Limited, Nestle Canada, McCormick Canada, Ferrero and others.
The contribution of food manufacturing to overall Ontario-wide employment is 273,500 FTE jobs, with direct food processing jobs just under 88,000. The gross output created, which includes the purchases of farm products as inputs to food manufacturing, is almost $54 billion — leading to $21.3 billion in province-wide GDP (3).
SCOR is responsible for 23.56% of the food manufacturing, farm and retail GDP in Ontario (9.3 billion) and 23.56% of the employment in Ontario in food manufacturing, farm, and retail (193,799 jobs) (1).
Moreover, the economic impact of agriculture and food production extends well beyond the food system. The linkages between businesses in the system and the rest of the economy result in many transactions outside the system itself such as agri-food and culinary tourism and high skilled, high-tech careers.
- Ontario Federation of Agriculture iMIS Database (2019