A new report from the Naturally Grown Herb & Spice Producers Cooperative (HerbPro) prepared by Raman Maangat with funding from the BC Agroforestry Industry Development Initiative
The purpose of this market study was to assess opportunities for BC and Canadian farmers of herbs and botanicals such as the native Crataegus species (i.e., hawthorn).
Historically farmers in the Canadian Herb/Botanical agricultural sector have been struggling to survive because of:
- Lack of small scale market demand
- Low profile of Canadian/BC grown herbs and botanicals.
- Competition with low cost commodity herbs/botanicals (China, Eastern Europe, South America)
- Little collaboration amongst BC and Canadian Growers
The Naturally Grown Herb and Spice Producers Cooperative commissioned Ms. Raman Maangat to conduct this study to determine whether there are opportunities to work directly with practitioners, apothecaries, and dispensaries to supply Canadian grown herbs and botanicals grown using safe and responsible farming practices.
The decline of the BC botanical and herb industry has been known for some time. However, it is thought there are some unique opportunities which may reinvigorate the industry. One such opportunity was thought to exist with respect to the naturopathic practitioners; this industry grew over 150% between 2001 and 2009 in Canada. To understand market opportunities it is important to complete a thorough assessment of the market in question.
After a complete market analysis of naturopathic practitioners in Western Canada, it is understood that although there is significant growth in this sector, it would be premature to consider this sales channel due to the following:
- Practitioner sales channel is very disparate. In order to understand the possible opportunities that may exist in the untapped practitioner sales channel market it is important to understand the scope of Canadian complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) channel in Canada and how the different areas of the discipline are defined. There does not seem to be ‘a common thread’ partially due to the number of different scope or treatment areas the practitioner chooses to practice or emphasize.
- Global competition has led to commodity based pricing. Currently botanical and herb producers in BC have not been able to differentiate their products and practices from that around the world.
- The cost of production is generally higher in BC relative to many producing regions around the world.
- Regulatory compliance has resulted in grower programs such as good agricultural and collective practices (GACPs), which add costs to production. Increased market awareness on GACPs and traceability should be initiated in order to differentiate the BC and Canadian industry/products from global competitors.
- Lack of published research and clinical trials associated with the indigenous Crataegus species found in Canada. Until there is science based evidence and proof that the indigenous species is better than the European Crataegus species practitioners will not accept hawthorn products that do not have science based evidence associated with the products. However, should there be future clinical trials; practitioners indicated willingness to participate in the trials.
The market analysis has highlighted some key focus areas for hawthorn growers including the need for:
- More published research and clinical evidence.
- Generating market awareness on programs such as GACPs, traceability certified organic practices, etc.
- Considering other hawthorn based products.