Ontario Hazelnut Summit: Fostering Innovation and Collaboration in the Agricultural Sector | Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics

Ontario Hazelnut Summit: Fostering Innovation and Collaboration in the Agricultural Sector

Posted on Friday, July 5th, 2024

Dr. Kalinga Jagoda sharing the Key Members of the event.


The Ontario Hazelnut Summit, a significant event for the agricultural community, took place on Tuesday, May 28th, at The Arboretum. Hosted by the University of Guelph’s Jonathan Parkes and his advisor Dr. Kalinga Jagoda, the event welcomed farmers of the Ontario Hazelnut Association, representatives from the Lang School of Business and Economics, members from industry, and government officials. The primary objective was to bring diverse stakeholders together to highlight how Ontario Hazelnut farmers can explore ways to enhance market strategies, understand customer expectations, and build valuable networks.

Key Highlights and Participants

The event was attended by several notable figures:

· Dean Sara Mann and Dr. Sean Lyons from the Lang School showcased Lang’s leadership and commitment to agricultural innovation.

· Ontario’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs delivered a keynote address, emphasizing the government’s support for the hazelnut industry.

· Christina Crowlie-Arklie, a marketing specialist & consultant, and U of G alumna, participated in a fireside chat on ‘Communicating Your Why’ with Jonathan, sharing insights on effective marketing strategies.

· A panel of industry members provided valuable insights from a customer standpoint.

· Messages from Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Lisa Thompson, and other government representatives highlighted ongoing support and initiatives.

· The Arrell Food Institute facilitated an afternoon workshop, fostering hands-on learning and collaboration.

Research Focus and Challenges

This project falls into the broader area of economic development, specifically targeting the agri-food sector and rural Ontario. It utilizes empirically validated supply chain maps to evaluate the market potential for Ontario hazelnuts and identify growth opportunities by considering total supply chain costs, farm-to-market lead times and responsiveness to changes in supply and demand. Highlighted during the summit, this critical research aims to support Ontario’s hazelnut industry by addressing the shortage of agricultural business research, particularly in marketing and commercialization. Key challenges include developing supply and value chains for hazelnuts, understanding market demands for various hazelnut types (deshelled, roasted, whole, etc.), mapping the hazelnut supply chain to identify optimal market opportunities, and determining price points and production costs to help farmers connect with buyers such as grocery stores and chocolate producers.

This study addresses several information gaps regarding current and projected production volumes, the potential for value addition and value capture, and the sector’s capacity for sustainable growth in Ontario's hazelnut industry. Insights developed through this study will assist growers and government agencies with market appraisals, establishing industry best practices, and developing targeted support initiatives. By exploring specific circumstances and requirements related to hazelnuts, the study will determine their feasibility, profitability, and sustainability.

The research will also provide a comprehensive account of Ontario’s hazelnut industry, including its current performance, key challenges, and opportunities. The findings will support the creation of a structured report assessing the market potential for Ontario hazelnuts, with recommendations on the relative merits and limitations of various scenarios considered, and their implications for other comparable crops.

Target Audience and Benefits

The primary beneficiaries of this research are farmers, who will gain insights into optimal pricing, sales strategies, and quantities to sell. Additionally, government agencies will benefit from data that informs policy decisions. Supply chain partners and investors will also gain awareness of local growers and potential investment opportunities in the hazelnut industry.

This research holds significant social and economic implications. It supports rural development by enabling farmers to thrive in non-urban areas, thereby addressing the prevalent issue of urban overcrowding in Canada. Additionally, it empowers small producers to access market opportunities, fostering a more equitable distribution of wealth. Theis research also promotes local, healthier, and less processed food options, enabling consumers to engage directly with processors.

Future Directions

The summit also outlined future research directions:

· Continuing to explore the need for and the optimal locations of processing plants.

· Advancing supply chain mapping in the hazelnut industry.

· Expanding the program to other crop industries such as fruits, vegetables, wine, grain, and dairy, in partnership with the University of Wollongong, Australia, which holds expertise in supply chain mapping and advanced programming.

Graduate Experience

The Ontario Hazelnut Summit successfully brought together a wide range of stakeholders, sharing new information on how to commercialize the hazelnut industry, and raising awareness of its potential. By fostering collaboration and innovative thinking, the summit set the stage for continued growth and success in Ontario's agricultural sector.

For Jonathon, organizing the hazelnut summit was an enriching experience, opening doors to further agricultural research and demonstrating the value of research in benefiting others. He expressed gratitude for the exposure to international researchers and the opportunity to contribute to a meaningful cause.


The Ontario Hazelnut Summit was a landmark event, highlighting the importance of research, collaboration, and innovation in the agricultural sector. As the research continues to evolve, it promises to deliver significant benefits to farmers, the government, and the wider community, driving the commercialization and success of Ontario's hazelnut industry.

News Archive