Food In Canada

The 2021 Organic Leadership Award winners

Food in Canada Staff   

Food Trends

The Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Organic Leadership awards. Each year, an outstanding group of honorees, nominated by their peers and confirmed unanimously by COTA, is presented the prestigious award according to the respective category. This year, awards were presented during the 5th annual Organic Leadership Awards Ceremony held virtually on Wednesday, May 5th.

With $6.9 billion in annual sales and 3.2% market share, Canada is regarded worldwide as an organic market leader. The advancements and unique accomplishments of the Canadian sector would not be possible without the significant efforts of these organic leaders who have cultivated and built the positive reputation of the Canada Organic brand. Each of these leaders has demonstrated exceptional work in advancing the organic industry and supporting organic education in Canada. The organic industry has benefited greatly from their personal commitment, leadership and vision.

Congratulations to this year’s award recipients:
Organic Champion of the Year – Ash Street Organics (Kelly Monaghan)
Leadership in Organic Science – Dr. Martine Dorais
Organic Retailer of the Year – Organic Grocer
Organic Supplier of the Year – Horizon Distributors
Organic Innovator of the Year – Manitoba Harvest
Organic Farmer of the Year – Pfenning’s Organic Vegetables

Kelly Monaghan of Ash Street Organics was awarded the title of Organic Champion – indicative of her steadfast
commitment to organic excellence. “I am very grateful for this recognition of my time in the organics industry,”
says Monaghan. “Our work in advancing organics has never been more important. I feel fortunate to be able to
work together towards that goal with so many wonderful people from around the world.”

Award winner in the leadership in organic science category, Dr. Martine Dorais continues to be an outstanding
leader and facilitator in organic horticultural research. Dr. Dorais is a driving force behind developments in the
organic greenhouse industry, exploring advanced approaches to organic greenhouse production. “I deeply believe
that organic farming is among one of the most important sustainable solutions of the coming years to improve soil
health, the biodiversity of the diverse Canadian agroecosystems and the crop resilience to climate change,” says Dr. Dorais. “I will pursue my research with passion to provide Canadians with affordable organic fruits and
vegetables, locally produced and available year-round, and to generate science-based knowledge promoting the
adoption of new organic practices and the development of innovative organic food production systems that will
contribute to food and nutrition security.”

Organic Grocer took home the title of organic retailer of the year. “We are entirely grateful and humbled by this
recognition of our commitment to carry and share organic products within our community,” says owner Kristen
Cavallari. “We have a deep appreciation for the organic industry, it aligns with our values on health and healing for
ourselves and our customers. Cheers to many more years to come!”

Horizon Distributors was honoured by COTA as the Organic Supplier of the Year. With revenues well over $130
million per year and a distribution platform that includes 750 brands servicing 2,500 retailers across Western
Canada and Yukon, Horizon’s contribution to the growth and accessibility of organic products has never been
stronger. “We are honoured to be recognized by COTA as the recipient of the 2021 Organic Supplier Award,”
says Terri Newell, vice president and general manager. We pledge to continue our work in amplifying the values
and benefits of organic as part of the broader discussions that are still so urgently needed regarding issues of
sustainable food systems and the challenges of climate change that lay ahead.”

Manitoba Harvest was awarded Innovator of the Year, highlighting a growing portfolio of hemp products with a
dedication to quality, sustainability, and consumer wellness. “Manitoba Harvest’s mission is to transform
consumer health through the power of hemp,” says global brand manager Caitlin Pulitzer. “We are deeply
honored to be accepting the Organic Innovator Award 2021. We are a firm believer in the power of organic food
and farming practices.”

Awarded the Organic Farmer of the Year, Pfenning’s Organic Vegetables continues to be a leader in organic
farming. Recently, Jenn Pfenning has been working on a project with the government of Canada to facilitate the
granting of permanent residence for foreign nationals in Canada with recent work experience in essential
occupations. “The work that COTA does advocating for the organic sector is invaluable, and we are very proud of
our long-standing involvement,” says Pfenning. “To be chosen as the recipient of the 2021 Organic Farmer Award
is a great honour.”

The event was a celebratory occasion using a virtual format to deliver the awards followed by an online
networking reception. “The quality of the nominations for this year’s Organic Leadership Awards were
outstanding, which made the selection process very difficult,” says COTA executive director Tia Loftsgard. “We
are pleased to be able to honour these outstanding industry members; and the strong field is a clear indication that
innovation and strong leadership remain hallmarks for success across Canada’s organic sector.”

The Organic Leadership Awards are organized by the Canada Organic Trade Association, aided by the generous
support of Barentz.

About the Canada Organic Trade Association
The Canada Organic Trade Association is a membership-based association for the organic industry in Canada:
representing growers, processors, certifiers, provincial farmers’ associations, importers, exporters, retailers and
others throughout the organic value chain. COTA’s mission is to envision organic products becoming a significant
part of everyday life, enhancing people’s lives and the environment. Through our leadership and collaboration,
COTA provides a strong voice for organic in Canada. COTA brings together the diversity of Canada’s organic
sector: from farmer and processor to retail, including food products, fibre and textiles, personal care, and
emerging sectors such as organic aquaculture.

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