Specialty Foods Guide

Gourmet chocolates

This guide can offer a launching point as you embark on your secondary market research for your business idea. Work through the questions and resources to develop strategies for accessing reliable business information as part of your planning process. While doing your own primary market research will ensure you get the exact data you need, it is usually very time consuming and expensive. Believe us -- it is well worth your time to learn how to find publicly available statistics and data first. We'll point you to as many freely available, online sources that we can find, but keep in mind that there are many resources available at your local public, college or research library. 

Guide Outline

This Accelerator Guide is organized into four sections designed to help you focus your research. Each section will highlight what goals you'll achieve, as well as questions to get you thinking about the kind of information you'll likely need. In no time you will be an expert DIY researcher! You'll need to use the menu on the left to explore each section but here is an outline you can follow.

  1. Getting Started has introductory materials like how-to books, sample business plans and general start-up information.
  2. Industry Info has sources outlining the current status, outlook, and trends for your particular industry or sector and more.
  3. Competitive Info has sources for outlining your competitive market, including potential competitors and market share.
  4. Customer Info has sources that will help you develop your market analysis and learn about the demographics of your target market and your customers' needs.

Need Other Help?

If you're looking for in-person help be sure to check out the BC Business Support Directory for help in your specific community. If this is your first time doing secondary market research you might want to follow our  step-by-step Business Research Basics. In the Learn Business Basics section of this website you will find curated lists of resources on many business topics from marketing, top business planning to a wide selection of free web-based tools to help you with your business development.

 

Categories

Food & Drink
Retail & Wholesale

Getting Started

Check Out Books & Business Plans For Inspiration

This section will introduce several "how-to" books on business to help you get started with your research. These books will primarily introduce you to business plan writing. These books will also introduce general business types such as retail and service business models.

 

Did you know?
Enter fact here

 

Find Books

Books To Help You Get Started

There is a good chance that someone has written a book about starting a business in your particular industry. "How-to" books are a great starting place in business research because they contain a collection of useful information in one single resource. They often provide a good introduction to business planning specific to your industry, and many contain sample business plans. Contact your local library to see what business-related books they have in their collection.

Google Books

Google Books 
Google Books is a search feature offered by Google. It enables users to search the full text of approximately 10 million books that Google has scanned and stored in its digital database. It also offers previews of books that are currently still in print.

 

 

Find Books In A Library Near You

Worldcat 
A global catalogue of library collections from various libraries around the world. You can search for books on business planning, new enterprises, start-ups, or your specific industry. You can search for all the locations with copies of a specific item, and then locate the item in a nearby library. In Worldcat, you can also view research articles and other digital content directly online.

Outlook Online
A search portal to BC's post-secondary and public library collections (93 libraries). 

Try Searching These Subject Headings

  • Natural foods -- Management.
  • Specialty stores -- Management.
  • New business enterprises -- Management.
  • Small business -- Management.


Search for an item in libraries near you:
WorldCat.org >>

Library Resources

Access to the following sources may be available through your local public or academic library. For information on how to obtain a library card, and for additional information on using libraries in BC, please visit our Getting Access to Library Resources page.

netLibrary | online library resource
BC ELN's shared collection of 800+ ebook titles is a strong, broad mix of theoretical, practical, applied and general interest titles across all business subject areas: accounting, e-commerce, enterpreneurship, economics and global economy, finance and banking. The collection includes works from leading business and economic scholars and key publishers of business information. For more information, including a list of the academic libraries that have access via ELN check out this link.

Find Business Plans

Related Business Plans Are Great Models

In the page below you will find examples of successful business plans. Researching your business plan can be a very time-consuming experience, but it is an essential and worthwhile investment. Your business plan will become your most important day to day operating tool. The information resources and strategies in this guide will help you create an effective plan and increase your chances for business success.

Review Sample Plans for Ideas

Most books about starting a business will include examples of business plans, as well as business planning templates. In addition to books, online business resources frequently include sample business plans. Here are a few to get you started.

Marketing Plans:

Tips

Libraries pay for many online resources that you can access from your home computer. For example, get in touch with your local library to see if you can get access to the Gale Business Plans Handbook today.

Mplans.com
This site provides a selection of free sample marketing plans. Mplans also sells marketing plan building software.

Business Plans:

Bplans.com
This site offers a selection of free sample business plans, as well as articles on business planning. Bplans.com also sells business planning software.

Library Resources

Access to the following sources may be available through your local public or academic library. For information on how to obtain a library card, and for additional information on using libraries in BC, please visit our Getting Access to Library Resources page.

Business Plans Handbook, Gale Publishing
This is a database of actual business plans written by North American entrepreneurs seeking financing for their businesses. Includes examples of many start-up business ideas. Access is available through many BC public libraries, made possible by a generous donation from the Sutherland Foundation. Affiliates of UBC can start here.

  • Gourmet Foods Company Business Plan - Good Earth Foods Company
  • Bagel Shop Business Plan - USA Bagels

 

Find Financing

Starting A New Business Requires Money - Where Will It Come From?

Identifying the sources of financing for your new small business can be a challenging and stressful task. Finding the money that a new business requires is an important step to success. With proper planning and a few resources to guide you on your way, identifying and securing the financing to start your business becomes a much smoother and gentler process. Here are a few important resources to help get your business financed. For more tools and resources, visit SBA's Funding & Financing page.

For more ideas
The Small Business Accelerator Blog is a great place to read up on the newest news and trends in small business financing. 
 

Great Starting Points For Finding Financing Information in BC and Canada:

Canada Business
Government of Canada website that provides business information services for entrepreneurs, including information on starting a business, grants and financing, regulations and permits, management, marketing and more.

Start here: Government Grants, Loans and Financing
Start here: Sources of Private Sector Financing

Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)
BDC is a government owned financial institution that serves Canadian entrepreneurs. BDC acts as a 'complementary lender', offering loans and investments that supplement services available from commercial financial institutions. BDC puts special focus on SMEs in sectors such as manufacturing, exporting, innovation and knowledge-based industries. Start with:

The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service - Global Markets Support Program
Offers a variety of funding and financing options for Canadian businesses with the potential to engage in global trade and international commerce.

How to Finance Your Start-Up Business - Small Business BC
This post published by Small Business BC provides an excellent overview of you main financing options. 

 

 

Find Industry Info

Do you need to:

  • Conduct your industry research? 
  • Write your industry overview?
  • Start your market analysis?

The resources in this section can help you answer these questions:

  • What are NAICS or SIC codes, and how can I use them for my business research?
  • What are the risks, trends, opportunities and outlooks for BC's gourmet and specialty foods industry? 
  • What is the forecast for the key activites in this industry?
  • What is the typical revenue and profit of the Canadian and BC food industry?
  • What trade associations, magazines, agencies and websites can be used for research? 
  • What is the employment forecast for the specialty food sector in BC?
  • Have there been regulatory or technological changes in this industry that could affect my business?

Make a note of all the questions you're hoping to answer.

Industry Codes

The North American Industry Classification System

At the start of your research, it may not be clear what specific industry you should be examining. A good strategy is to find out if your business idea is classified in an industrial classification system. These systems organize industries by assigning them a numeric code. The most commonly used system is the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).  Once you know your Industry Classification Code you can use this number to:

  • Find industry-specific statistics on government websites or in library databases
  • Generate lists of competitors in company directories

Another common classification system is the Standard Industry Code (SIC). NAICS have most replaced the SIC, but the SIC is still used by some commercial databases. Finding and using these classification systems to effectively search can be tricky, so don't hesitate to ask a librarian for help.

Here Are Some Relevant Categories:

Type Code Description
NAICS 4452 Specialty Food Stores 
NAICS 44529 Other Specialty Food Stores 
NAICS 445299 All Other Specialty Food Stores 
NAICS 3114 Fruit and Vegetable Preserving and Specialty Food Manufacturing 
NAICS 3119 Other Food Manufacturing 
NAICS 41319 Other Specialty-Line Food Wholesaler-Distributors 
SIC 5400 Retail-Food Stores 

»Search or browse all NAICS or SIC codes on the NAICS Association website. Some NAICS codes are different in Canada, you can search by keyword or browse Canadian NAICS codes at Statistics Canada or Canadian Industry Statistics. To search for a SIC code using a NAICS code and vice-versa use the NAICS & SIC Crosswalks.   

For more information about planning your industry research and industry codes, check out the video tutorial for Module 3: Planning Your Industry Research.

Library Databases

The Expensive World Of Business Information

Believe it or not, you cannot find everything in Google! Have you ever done an online search and found the perfect industry report only to find that it costs over 5K? Did you know that libraries pay for many expensive databases that could be helpful in your secondary market research? Search engines like Google can only provide direct access to freely available information. Most of the web, including business information, lives in databases behind expensive paywalls. This paywall protected section of the internet is known as the deep web. Fortunately, some libraries pay to subscribe to databases so they can provide free access to their patrons - and many business databases can contain useful information such as articles, market research, and company reports.

There are several strategies you can use to access relevant business information on the deep web. First, we urge you to look up what business resources your local public or academic library can provide access to. Each database has its own arrangement, with unique interfaces and search features. It helps to know the structure and search terms of the specific database you are working with in order to retrieve effective results. Also, it is important to know that library databases are restricted by specific usage agreements. It can help to consult with a librarian if you have trouble navigating a specific database. They may also be able to help you find comparable information elsewhere. Libraries with robust business collections might also have useful e-books, directories and trade journals. As you conduct your secondary market research you will likely need to consult both free and deep web resources.

For more information about how and why to use business databases, check out our video tutorial, Module Four: Conducting Your Industry Research.

Library Resources

Access to the following sources may be available through your local public or academic library. For information on how to obtain a library card, and for additional information on using libraries in BC, please visit our Getting Access to Library Resources page.

Here Are Some Library Databases For Industry Research:

Tips

Try searching for specialty food or artisanal food and terms like trends or research or statistics to narrow your search.

ABI/INFORM Collection

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you can access this resource.

Created by ProQuest this database contains full-text articles from over 1,000 business magazines and journals that track business conditions, trends, management techniques, corporate strategies, and industry-specific topics.

Start here: Doyle, B., Bell, A., & Smith, D. (2010). Specialty food and beverage: A case study of small business management. Journal of Business Case Studies, 6(1), 1-9.
Start here: Research and markets; 2011 report on the $20 billion US specialty food stores market. (2011). Marketing Business Weekly, 50.
Start here: Little miss chief: More than a fish story. (2011, Oct 24). Canadian Business, 84(17), 71-71.

Business Source Complete / Business Source Premier
Created by Ebsco, this database contains quarterly reports on major industries in 175 countries, including Canada. Includes Datamoniter company profiles, market research reports, 5-year forecasts and SWOT analyses, as well as information on industry trends, forecasts, outlooks, competitors, how to run a specific business, and much more. Contact your local public or academic to determine if you can get access. UBC affiliates and in-person library visitors can learn more about this resource and how to access it here.

Start here: Torres, N. L. (2007). FIRST LOCAL FLAVOR. Entrepreneur, 35(11), 110-112.
Start here: Kingston, A. (2011). From ancient grains, a healthy new oil. Maclean's, 124(27), 55.
Start here: Ross, I. (2004). Meatless gourmet goes for growth. Northern Ontario Business, 24(11), 30.

First Research Industry Profiles

How to access: If you are UBC student, staff, or faculty you can access many of these reports through ABI/INFORM.

Covers over 900 industry segments. Updated on a quarterly basis, these industry profiles contain critical analysis, statistics and forecasts to help you engage key prospects, coach key clients, and deepen customer relationships. You can search for reports by NAICS, SIC or keyword or browse by category.

Start here: Specialty Food Stores Industry Profile

Canadian Business and Current Affairs (CBCA)

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you can access this resource. Otherwise, contact your local library to see if they provide access.

Canadian Business and Current Affairs (CBCA)

Provides access to general and specialized business information, current events, and reference materials, including popular and academic journals. Excellent for tracking trends for your specific product or industry.

Start here: Ahearn, V. (2011, Dec 19). Stick-to-your-ribs cuisine to continue to trend on land and wheels in 2012.
Start here: Lungen, P. (2011, May 05). Artisan kitchen produces grain-free foods. Canadian Jewish News, pp. 36-36.
Start here: Grant, T. (2011, Apr 02). New companies are cooking up more than just profits. The Globe and Mail (Index-Only), pp. M.1-M.1.

Tips

Need to find your local library? Check out our directory.

Canadian Newsstream

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you can access this resource. Otherwise, contact your local library to see if they provide access.

Canadian Newsstream

Provides full-text access to many Canadian national and regional newspapers. Content is updated daily, following a two-day embargo period. Some content dates back to 1985. You can easily set up an article alert service and receive email updates on your search results. All you need to do is complete your search and click on the Save search/alert link near the top of your results. Provide your email address and then set the notification frequency and you're good to go! Try searching your industry, track information on your competitors or any other topic of your choice.

Start here: Shore, R. (2011, Dec 03). Artisanal food creators find recipes for success; home-based food businesses are taking off in cottage country. The Vancouver Sun, pp. F.6.
Start here: Faulder, L. (2011, Oct 12). Hungarian baker brings European flourish; passion is the essential ingredient found in great food, says entrepreneur. Edmonton Journal, pp. E.2.

Associations & Magazines

Associations & Magazines Are Great Sources of Industry Information

In this section we have gathered some of the most popular information sources, such as trade journals, magazines, blogs, and association websites. Industry information is always changing. For the latest news, current issues and popular opinions, try following one or more of these sources. In addition, interacting with the websites that provide this information through commenting and asking questions may also provide you with more information.

Associations 

Trade associations often publish free industry newsletters that are excellent sources of information for your business plan. Such newsletters often have articles that cover in-depth topics on business management, manufacturing practices, how-tos, and current industry news.

National Association for the Specialty Food Trade | The largest specialty food association in North America. The NASFT sponsors an annual trade show, a database of news resources, and an online community space.

Food and Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC) | The FCPC is the largest industry association in Canada representing the food and consumer products industry.

Retail Council of Canada (RCC) | RCC is a not-for-profit, industry-funded association representing more than 43,000 store fronts of all retail formats across Canada, including department, specialty, discount, and independent stores, and online merchants. Check out the Training and Resources page.

Tips

ASAE Gateway to Associations Directory
Use this directory to search for an association by name, interest area, or international geographic location (including Canada and BC). You can also search using a combination of various fields.

Magazines / Trade Journals

Trade journals (often called magazines or trade publications) can be very useful in helping you find current articles relating to business research. Contact your local research library to determine which trade journal subscriptions they have. There are also free trade publications that you can access online. 

Canadian Grocer
The top grocery industry magazine covering Canada. Subscribe to their print magazine or view online content.

Gourmet Retailer
Offers print and digital magazines, as well as extensive information available free online. Use the website to research industry trends and products, get the latest news, and connect with other specialty foods business owners.

Specialty Food Magazine
A publication of the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, this monthly journal contains product and buying information, trends, and forecasts. Browse back issues for free online.

Tips

Try searching Ulrichs Periodical Directory to develop a list of important trade publications in your industry.

 

Blogs & Forums

Informal Information Sources to Help You Stay Current 

In this section we have gathered some of the most popular peer-to-peer information sources, such as blogs, discussion forums and other social media resources. Industry information is always changing - for the latest news, current issues and popular opinions - try following one or more of these sources. In addition, blogs and forums usually give you the opportunity to join the conversation, either by posting comments, questions or opinions of your own. 

Specialty and Gourmet Food Blogs:

Lunch with Rob

Created by Rob Gerlsbeck, editor of Canadian Grocer, this blog explores food, retail and how people shop

Start here: Here's what Shoppers are Thinking these Days (2011)

MySpecialtyFood 
A collection of news and updates from both the users and writers of Specialty Food.com, a gateway created by the United States National Association for the Specialty Food Trade Inc.

Start here: Trendspotting at the Sofi Awards Judging (2013)

Small Food Business
Focused on providing information and a sense of community to artisan food business owners and aspiring food entrepreneurs, this blog is full of great resources including business toolkits covering financials, marketing and publicity for food enterprises.

Start here: Know thy Customer

 

Specialty Food Discussion Forums:

Food Entrepreneurs 
An active discussion forum covering mentoring, distribution, funding, and other topics of interest to food entrepreneurs.

Key Websites

Tips

If you want a one-stop shop for government reports try the BC Legislative Library catalogue.

Finding The Best Online Information Is Tough

In this section we have gathered some of the most reliable government and employment websites for you to use in your research.

Canadian Information:

WorkBC | Find current employment outlooks, labour market information, relevant links, and a geographic representation of the BC workforce. Start by searching your Industry Profile.

Start here: Industry Profile: Wholesale and Retail Trade
Start here: Occupation Profile: Store Shelf Stockers, Clerks and Order Fillers
Start here: Occupation Profile: Retail and Wholesale Trade Managers

Job Bank - Government of Canada
The leading source for labour market information. The site is designed to assist individuals who are searching for work or looking to make career decisions but can also be useful to gage employment trends in an industry. Try using their search portal to explore careers by occupation or review the latest job market trends in your industry. 

Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada
Provides market research, industry statistics, licensing information for intellectual property, and information about doing business internationally. The Industry Canada site features interactive applications such as customizable trade reports, cost calculators, and online business planning guides. You can also search broad Canadian industry statistics.

Start here: Establishments - Grocery Stores (NAICS 4451)
Start here: Company Directories - Specialty Food Stores (NAICS 4452)
Start here: State of Retail: The Canadian Report 2010

The Daily - Statistics Canada
The premier source for Canadian statistical information, including census information. Search 'The Daily' releases by subject to identify corresponding census tables, latest news, and publications. Similarly, you can browse by data source, including surveys & questionnaires relevant to your market research, which also link to census tables, latest news and publications.

Start here: Retail Trade Data (2012)
Start here: Retail sales, by industry (monthly) (Scroll down to Food and Beverage Stores --> Specialty Food Stores)

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada provides information and programs for those who raise animals or who grow plants for food, feed or industrial use. This web resource features a comprehensive collection of agricultural information including economic forecasts and statistics, policies and acts, incentive programs and other services.

Start here: Canadian Consumers

Province of Alberta - Ministry of Labour
Provides information on economic development, labour, trades and apprenticeships as well as industry descriptions and data from the Province of Alberta.

Start here: Industry Profiles

PriceWaterhouse Coopers Canada (PwC) | Global consultancy firm that produces reports on the state of various industries.

Start here: Retail and Consumer Industry

International and/or American Information: 

HighBeam Business: Industry Reports
These industry reports provide statistics, trends, market analysis, and industry news on a wide range of industries. HighBeam Business is operated by The Gale Group, a well-known and respected publisher of reference directories and databases for libraries and academia, and it is part of the larger information and publishing firm Cengage Learning.

Start here: Eating Places Market Report
Start here: Miscellaneous Food Stores Market Report

MarketWatch - Industry Analyzer
The Industries section contains current data on Dow Jones Industry Sectors. Aggregate data as well as company-specific data is available.

Start here: US Food & Beverage Index

Reportlinker.com
ReportLinker is a professional search engine which gives you access to an exclusive database of 1.2 million market reports and counting. Use this search engine to find official Industry reports, Company profiles and Market Statistics. Please note: information listed on this website may be very expensive but it may be possible to get access to specific reports elsewhere.

globalEDGE
A comprehensive business source by the Broad College of Business of Michigan State University. It includes a wide range global studies on industries worldwide and marcroeconomic analysis for each country.

Vault Industry Profiles
A free source of industry information. Use the Industry Profiles to research news, company information, and industry-specific sample professions. Basic monthly membership is free and offers access to blogs, discussion forums, and job listings.

Start here: Food and Beverage Profile

 

You might want to jump ahead to the news websites listed in the next section of this Accelerator Guide for more resources. News websites can often be good sources of industry, competitive and consumer information.

Regulations & Guidelines

Start With These Websites To Learn More About Compliance Issues

When it comes to starting a business, one of the first decisions you need to make is the the legal structure of your business - sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability partnership, or limited company. You'll also need to register your business and you'll need to be aware of many municipal, provincial or federal regulations. The websites in this section will help you.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Canadian federal government agency dedicated to safeguarding food, animals and plants in order to enhance the health and well-being of Canada's people, environment and economy.

Health Canada
Health Canada is the Federal department responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health. Health Canada is engaged in various activities related to health, including preserving and modernizing Canada's health care system, enhancing and protecting the health of Canadians, and communicating health promotion and disease prevention.

Start here: Food and Nutrition - Safe Food Handling

General Resources

Canada Business Network - Permits and Licenses Search
Search for the permits and licenses applicable to your industry and location to meet all federal, provincial and municipal regulations.

Small Business BC (SBBC)
SBBC is a great place to start for information on BC specific regulations and guidelines, for whatever stage you are in your business development. This is a great post on the topic.

BizPaL
This is the one-stop website to assist Canadian businesses that are just starting up, or expanding into new areas. BizPaL asks you a short series of questions about the nature and scope of your current or proposed business. Based on your answers, BizPaL provides you with a customized list of government permits and licences that you may require to operate your business. All of the information that you provide is kept anonymous, and you may save or print your results for future reference.

Canada Revenue Agency - Business
This section of the Canadian federal tax agency's website contains important taxation and documentation requirements that businesses operating in Canada must adhere to.

The Province of British Columbia
Provides information on programs and resources available to small business owners in British Columbia. Includes information on taxes and industry regulations. Start with the Permits, Licences & Registrations section.

 

Find Competitive Info

Do you need to:

  • Gather and analyze competitive information?
  • Define your competitive edge?
  • Use benchmarking tools to create your financial analysis?
  • Find competitor information for your own organizational plan?

The resources in this section can help you answer these questions:

  • Who are my direct or indirect competitors? Where are they located?
  • Who are the leading companies in the BC specialty foods industry and what can I learn about them (e.g., what were their revenues)?
  • Are any of my competitors publicly traded and would their financial filings help me plan my own business?
  • What are my competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and how can I add unique value?
  • Has there been any news coverage on my competitors announcing a new product, marketing strategy or personnel changes that can provide insight into my business planning?

Make a note of all the questions you're hoping to answer.

Tips On Company Research

Company Research For Your Competitive Analysis

An in-depth investigation and analysis of your competition is one of the most important components of a comprehensive market analysis. A competitive analysis allows you to assess your competitors' strengths and weaknesses in the marketplace, and to implement effective strategies to improve your competitive advantage. Here are some research strategies for doing your competitive analysis:

  • Company directories can be used to create lists of competitors by industry, product line, size, etc.
  • Doing a company name search in a general research database is an excellent way to learn more about your competitor’s products, services, prices, and media coverage.
  • If your competitors are public companies, learn more about them by reading their financials and annual reports.
  • News archives provide a range of competitive information on both public and private companies.
  • Patents are a good way to learn about the technical and design features of a competitor's products. You can refer to this UBC Library Research Guide, created by UBC Engineering Librarians, if you are looking for patent information. Most of the resources listed are freely available.

For information on primary and secondary market research, as well as common sources for secondary market research, watch our video tutorial Module One: Introduction To Market Research.

Finding information on public companies is considerably easier than finding information on privately-held companies. Information on public companies is readily available online, or at your local library. Another good starting point is the list of resources in the next section of this Accelerator Guide: Find Competitors. Unlike public companies, private companies are not required to file with the System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval (SEDAR). Searching for private company information is considerably more difficult and will require a lot of patience, and a healthy dose of creativity. 

Find Competitors

Use Directories To Make A List of Competitors

To create a list of competitors and find basic information about them (e.g. number of employees, contact information) you will need to consult business directories. Many directories are available online for free, while others are fee-based commercial databases. You can find directories that are particular to an industry or geography. Your local library will likely have a good collection of directories that you can consult in person.

For further information about secondary market research, see our video tutorial Module Two: Secondary Market Research for Industry Analysis.

If you know of some public companies in your industry than annual reports can provide a great deal of useful financial information including sales volume, revenue increases, and total market share. You can search the System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval (SEDAR) for Canadian Company filings. If the competitor you are researching does business in the USA than you search the Security and Exchange Commissions equivalent, EDGAR, which provides free public access to corporate information including financial information and operations by reviewing registration statements, prospectuses and periodic reports filed on Forms 10-K and 10-Q. You also can find information about recent corporate events reported on Form 8-K that a company does not have to disclose to investors. You can use advanced search features to search by Standard Industry Classification (SIC) codes.

Here is a list of Business Directories

B.C. Business Network
The B.C. Business Network is a a dynamic directory of leading B.C. businesses interested in new opportunities and expanding markets. Search companies by keyword or select the sector from the drop down menu to view all companies in a given sector.

Company Directories by Industrial Sector
Use this link to search Industry Canada's various directories by Industry Category, NAICS code or keyword.

Canadian Companies Capabilities
This Industry Canada database has over 60,000 Canadian businesses. You can search within specialized directories for aboriginal businesses, women-owned businesses or specific industries such as computer services or apparel. The business profiles contain comprehensive information on contacts, products, services, trade experience, and technology.

Start here: From the main search page, select Go to Detailed Search. Scroll down to the NAICS code search box and type in 4452.

Frasers
A comprehensive industrial directory and search tool, with information on products and services provided by Canadian industrial wholesalers, manufacturers, and distributors. You can search by product name, company name, or brand name.

Start here: Select Food & Related Products in the category list.

CanadaOne - Canadian Business Directory
CanadaOne has a directory of over 20,000 Canadian businesses.

Start here: Specialty Foods Companies in British Columbia

ThomasNet
A listing of manufacturers in the US and Canada. Includes links to product catalogs.An excellent free source to research your competitors or find suppliers.

Online maps such as Google Maps or Bing Maps  and popular directories such as Yelp are a fast way to locate nearby competitors, and to get a better sense of the region your business operates within. Try searching for the name of your product or industry and narrowing your results by focusing the map on a specific location, such as a city or neighborhood.

Library Resources

Access to the following sources may be available through your local public or academic library. For information on how to obtain a library card, and for additional information on using libraries in BC, please visit our Getting Access to Library Resources page.

Business in Vancouver, Book of Lists
Comprehensive collection of BC business data compiled annually as the popular BIV Book of Lists. Provides data on over 1000 companies including: websites, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, top executives' names, company age, revenues, profits and much more. UBC affiliates and in-person community researchers can obtain access to a print version (here are details on how to locate it) or you can get your own online subscription

The Blue Book of Canadian Business
Detailed profiles for over 60 Canadian corporations, including missions/values, history, operations, social responsibility and executive biographies. Also contains directory type information for 2,500 Canadian companies, a ranking of the top 500 companies and a list of the top 400 Canadian stocks. UBC affiliates and in-person community researchers can obtain access to a print version of this periodical (here are details on how to locate it at UBC in Vancouver).

Reference Canada
Provides information on more than one million businesses throughout Canada. Includes name, address, phone number, contacts, number of employees, annual sales volumes, line of business, and credit rating. Vancouver Public Library subscribes to this online directory so check with your local library about access.

Attending trade shows is an excellent way to learn more about your competitors. Contact local associations or read trade publications to find out what trade shows are coming to your community.

10Times.com
The largest worldwide online directory of trade fairs, business exhibitions, trade shows, conferences, and seminars for various industries. Search for trade shows by industry, country, date, organizer, or venue.

TSNN.com
Online directory of trade shows, exhibitions, public events, conferences and seminars.  Please note: free registration required.

Find Financial Information

Find Competitor's Financial Information, Annual Reports, Filings, Etc.

One thing you will need to do in the financials section of your business plan is discuss how you will price your products and/or services, and how this compares to your competitors. You will need to develop a financial plan that includes your projected revenues and net income. The following resources will help you find financial information on competitors in your industry.

Sources For Finding Financial Information:

EDGAR
Filings with the US Securities & Exchange Commission by companies listed on US exchanges. 10-K Formsinclude detailed information on company history, structure, financial statements, and other relevant data.

Financial Post Infomart
Offers corporate information and financial reports for Canada's leading 500 companies. Includes analytical tools to examine data for approximately 1400 Canadian companies. Use the Industry Reports or Companies by Industry databases. Check out this detailed guide to searching Infomart. Please note:Only some information is free. Check with your local library for complete access to this resource.

Financial Performance Data (formerly SME Benchmarking Tool)
Tool for benchmarking your financial reports with others in your sector. Website also includes a collection of financial data and annual reports of various Canadian companies. For instructions on using the Financial Performance Data click here. To create a report using Financial Performance data click here.

Note: Use NAICS code 4452 for your report.

SEDAR
A collection of corporate filings that are required by securities regulators, from companies operating in Canada. This website is an excellent source for information about a company's plans, competitive environment, markets, products, and assets. SEDAR is the Canadian equivalent of EDGAR.

Library Resources

Access to the following sources may be available through your local public or academic library. For information on how to obtain a library card, and for additional information on using libraries in BC, please visit our Getting Access to Library Resources page.

LexisNexis Academic
Provides access to business and financial news, US and international company financial information, market research, industry reports, and actual SEC filings. Search features permit comparison of companies based on criteria such as sales, income, and number of employees. Follow the 'Business' link to find company annual reports, financial, and credit reports. Check your local library to see if they provide access. 

Sources For Finding Ratios:

Ratios are tools that allow you to plan and assess your company's progress over time, and to compare it to other companies in the same industry. There are different kinds of ratios, including operating ratios, financial ratios, performance indicators, and benchmarks.

Financial Performance Indicators for Canadian Business
Offers current financial ratios by industry, based on data provided by Statistics Canada. The indicators are designed to serve as financial performance benchmarks against which individual firms and industries can be compared. Affiliates of UBC, UNBC, UVic and SFU have access through Abacus Dataverse. If you are visiting, please contact your local library about access.

News Sources

Media Coverage Can Reveal A Lot About Your Industry and Competitors

News articles can be great sources for understanding what your competitors are planning, what new products they are launching, and important information on how they structure their organization. A librarian can help you find relevant online news articles. Don't forget that you can also use media sources to research business and industry trends.

Tips
It is easy to set up a Google Alert to track information about your industry or competitors. Here are some instructions.

CanadaNewsWire
A free news database that is searchable by company name, keyword, or industry sector.

NewsLink
Links to local and international news source websites. Provides access to both current and archived news stories, which allows you to track trends over time.

YAHOO! Finance Canada
Excellent source for current Canadian business news. The website also features an extensive business news archive section.

Library Resources

Access to the following sources may be available through your local public or academic library. For information on how to obtain a library card, and for additional information on using libraries in BC, please visit our Getting Access to Library Resources page.

Canadian Business and Current Affairs (CBCA)

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you can access this resource. Otherwise, contact your local library to see if they provide access.

Canadian Business and Current Affairs (CBCA)

Provides access to general and specialized business information, current events, and reference materials, including popular and academic journals. Excellent for tracking trends for your specific product or industry.

Canadian Newsstream

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you can access this resource. Otherwise, contact your local library to see if they provide access.

Canadian Newsstream

Provides full-text access to many Canadian national and regional newspapers. Content is updated daily, following a two-day embargo period. Some content dates back to 1985. You can easily set up an article alert service and receive email updates on your search results. All you need to do is complete your search and click on the Save search/alert link near the top of your results. Provide your email address and then set the notification frequency and you're good to go! Try searching your industry, track information on your competitors or any other topic of your choice.

You can easily set up an article alert in Canadian Newstand to learn about your industry, track information on competitors or other relevant topics. All you need to do is try out your search and click on the Set Up Alert link in you results. Provide your email address and set the notification frequency and you're good to go!

Market Share & Size

Putting Together Your Piece Of The Pie

Both market size and market share held by competitors are key factors when assessing the competitive environment. Keep in mind that there is no single source of market size and market share data. Market information is usually pieced together from various sources and is not often readily available for niche or emerging industries. One strategy is to combine a competitor's name or a comparable, established industry with the term market share in article databases or read market research reports. You will need to identify and describe your market – who your customers are and what the demand is for your products and services.

Library Resources

Access to the following sources may be available through your local public or academic library. For information on how to obtain a library card, and for additional information on using libraries in BC, please visit our Getting Access to Library Resources page.

ABI/INFORM Collection

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you can access this resource.

Created by ProQuest this database contains full-text articles from over 1,000 business magazines and journals that track business conditions, trends, management techniques, corporate strategies, and industry-specific topics.

Business Source Ultimate

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you can access this resource. Otherwise, contact your local library to see if they provide access.

Includes financial data, books, videos, company profiles, SWOT analyses, industry profiles, country reports, market research reports and case studies.  Also includes information on industry trends, forecasts, outlooks, competitors, how to run a specific business and much more.

eMarketer

How to access: If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you can access this resource. Or, contact your local public or academic library for their access details.

Global market research and trend analysis database that focuses on Internet, e-business, online marketing, media, and emerging technologies.

Market Share Reporter

Annual compilation of international market share data on selected companies, products, and services. Helpful tip: Use the back-of-book indexes to look up products, services, brands, and companies. If you are searching for information specific to a certain country, be sure to check the table title.

Try Primary Research

Try Primary Research

The main point of this guide is to introduce you to a wide range of secondary market research resources but keep in mind there is great value in analyzing other information including:

  • Advertising, blogs and sales brochures
  • Your personal network and employees
  • Direct observation and interviews

Find Customer Info

Do you need to:

  • Research your customer analysis?
  • Identify your target customers?
  • Demonstrate how your products and services satisfy your customers' needs?

The resources in this section can help you answer these questions:

  • Who is going to buy my products? Will I sell directly to individuals or to other companies, such as a retail store or restaurant? 
  • What is the future outlook of my target market (e.g., specialty or gourmet foods industry forecast)?
  • What do people spend on gourmet and specialty foods?
  • What is demographic data and how can it help me research my customers?
  • What food trends have recently been identified in British Columbia? What foods are trending now? 

Make a note of all the questions you're hoping to answer.

Demographic Data

Demographic Analysis is Critical to Your Success

The resources listed in this section will help you identify population characteristics, and help you develop your customer profile. This research will also help you identify geographic areas where the largest number of your potential customers live. This can be very useful when determining a location for your business, and also when formulating your marketing strategy. Don't forget that trade associations and trade journals collect information about customers and can be great information sources for this area of your research.

Community Information Database (CID) - Government of Canada’s Rural Secretariat
The Community Information Database (CID) is a free internet-based resource that provides access to socio-economic and demographic data for all communities across Canada. Sample data includes: population, education, income, employment, families, and much more. The CID also includes an interactive map for displaying and accessing data. Learn more in the FAQs and the Community Information Database (CID) Tutorials

2017 Canadian Household Spending  - Statistics Canada
Statistics Canada is the national statistical office. The agency ensures Canadians have the key information on Canada's economy, society and environment that they require to function effectively as citizens and decision makers.

This table provides statistical information about household expenditures by Canadians broken down into a variety of categories. You can refine the table by region. You can view the full list of data tables from the 2016 census here

Census Profile - Statistics Canada
Provides Canadian community profiles from the latest Census of Canada. These profiles are very useful for comparing statistics on different municipalities or regional districts. Includes details on family characteristics, primary language, mobility, educational attainment, marital status, labour force activity, earnings, and mode of transportation to work.

Find latest data from the 2016 Census

Search type

 

Thanks to Catie Sahadath at the University of Ottawa Libraries for building this widget.

 

Market Research Handbook - Statistics Canada
A comprehensive source of socio-economic statistics. Data includes profiles of key industries, including the small business sector, as well as of consumers in all the provinces and in 45 major cities across Canada. Also includes information on international trade data, households, families, and selected economic indicators. The Market Research Handbook was published annually until 2008 but is now discontinued. A copy of the 2008 version in PDF format is available on their website.

Socio-Economic Profiles - BC Stats
The socio-economic profiles consist of charts and tables for the various regional districts, health areas, college regions and school districts. Each region contains a map, demographic profile, economic hardship, labour market structure, education concerns, crime, health problems, children at risk, and youth at risk. The profiles are presented in a format that allows comparison to other regions in the province and to BC overall.

Library Resources

Access to the following sources may be available through your local public or academic library. For information on how to obtain a library card, and for additional information on using libraries in BC, please visit our Getting Access to Library Resources page.

Canadian Advertising Rates and Data (CARD)
Advertising rates and related data on significant Canadian and international media. Use this resource to obtain statistics on the subscriber population for a particular publication that serves your target market. May be available online through your local academic or public library. Very little information is available for free but you can find more information about CARDonline here. UBC 

Alliance for Audited Media
Use this website to find the total circulation of publications by various Canadian Advertising CARD categories.

PCensus
Provides access to detailed Canadian demographic information including population, income, and spending levels by province, city, or postal code. PCensus can also generate custom reports using Census data. Contact Vancouver Public Library or your local research library to obtain access.

FP Markets - Canadian Demographics
This publication updates key census variables at the municipal level to the current year. It also includes psychographic data as well as economic and retail trade estimates. In addition to census data, FP Markets also includes data for PSYTE categories or "clusters" of characteristics (age, income, ethnic origin, neighbourhoods, dwelling types, buying preferences and other data derived from the census and consumer surveys).The Canadian version of PSYTE classifies Canadians according to 65 clusters of characteristics. This is the version used in FP Markets. If the cluster descriptions fit your target market, you may find the PSYTE data in FP Markets a useful supplement to other data in your report. Follow this link for more information on PSYTE® Canada Advantage Cluster Descriptions.

Your Target Market

A Word On Primary Research

Sometimes doing your own market research is the only way to learn about your potential customers. If this is the case, you may need to conduct focus groups, interviews, surveys, or some other form of data collection. But before you commit time and energy to this kind of research, be sure to try the sources listed in this section.

British Columbia Survey of Household Spending 2010 (xls)
The data from this release came from the 2009 Survey of Household Spending conducted by Statistics Canada. The Survey of Household Spending is carried out annually across Canada in ten provinces. The purpose of this survey is to obtain information about household spending, dwelling characteristics, as well as household equipment.

What you'll find: The average household expenditure in British Columbia on food purchased from restaurants and stores, at home and on vacation.

Survey of Household Spending - Statistics Canada
Raw data in table form from the Survey of Household Spending (SHS). This general resource provides information on household spending by demographics. Report includes detailed information on Canadian spending patterns, household equipment, and housing conditions. Also includes the ability to view data from British Columbia only; click on "Add/Remove Data".

What you'll find: The average household expenditure on food by province or in Canada as a whole. Compare changes over last few years.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada provides information and programs for those who raise animals or who grow plants for food, feed or industrial use. This web resource features a comprehensive collection of agricultural information including economic forecasts and statistics, policies and acts, incentive programs and other services.

Start here: Canadian Consumers

Library Resources

Access to the following sources may be available through your local public or academic library. For information on how to obtain a library card, and for additional information on using libraries in BC, please visit our Getting Access to Library Resources page.

Vividata (formerly "Print Measurement Bureau")
Includes information on Canadians' usage of over 3500 products and services. Information includes demographics, attitudes, media consumption, retail outlets, frequency of usage and brands used. UBC affiliates and in-person library patrons can learn more about the resource here.

Start here: Includes [enter industry specific details] by province and major Canadian cities broken down by data such as:  martial status, family size, net income, and language spoken.

OR

Start here: PMB Category Reports - PMB 2011 Spring Study. Information on the personal buying preferences of Canadians with regard to [add industry here]. Check for relevant data under the [add PMB chapters here] headings.

Marketresearch.com/Freedonia Focus

How to access: Check your local public or academic library to see about access. If you are a UBC student, staff, faculty or in-person library visitor you can access this resource.

While you can search this website only some Canadian libraries provide full-text access to the market research reports on industries and demographics for North American industries. They can range from 50 to 400+ pages in length, and contain charts, tables, and graphs, and key facts. Marketresearch.com has varied industry coverage and includes US and international information.

Start here: Freshness: Culinary Trend Mapping Report (February 2012)
Start here: New Old World Cuisine: Culinary Trend Mapping Report (August 2011)
Start here: Condiments and Sauces: Culinary Trend Mapping Report (June 2011)

Tips

To find more information on demographics, try entering the phrase “demographic data” and your city name into the search box of any popular search engine such as Google or Bing.