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John O’s Foods is the largest privately owned lake fish company in Canada, operating out of a 55,000-square-foot processing facility. Those are our statistics, but we are much more than that. 

We were born from a passion of connecting land and water. Five generations later, that passion is stronger than ever. While we specialize in catching and preparing delicious and nutritious sweetwater fish from Canada and Europe, we’re also a company whose intentions extend far deeper than the Canadian lakes that surround us. We are powered by innovation. We are stewards of sustainability. And we’re driven by the great families who work with us day in and day out—many of whom are multi-generational. 

Our mission at John O’s Foods is to have a positive and lasting impact on the environment, and community, as well as on customers, employees and suppliers.  

This is the way we do business. 

Our Rich History

Owner and founder, John Omstead, is a fourth-generation member of the family that founded Omstead Fisheries in 1911. Omstead Fisheries grew to become the largest freshwater fishery in the world.

After John worked at Omsteads, he ventured into the vegetable business and built Family Tradition Foods. He sold Family Tradition Foods in 2006 and went back to his roots to continue the legacy of the Omstead family in fish. John is known as the “market innovator,” but it is his compassion, good values and zest for life, that are the essence of our company. 

Certified Sustainable Seafood MSC logo
Made in Ontario Logo
Historic photo of John O Foods employees unloading fish from a fishing boat in crates

SINCE 1911...

There is a storied history of fishing on Lake Erie, especially with the Omstead name. 

John Omstead and sons
John O's Foods fishing boat
Employees of John O Foods in front of their truck
John Omstead at desk
Old Omstead fishing boat
Old Omstead semi-truck

John's Journey in Vegetables 

John worked in the vegetable division for Omstead Foods during the 80s. After the family sold their shares in 1984, John stayed on for five years but grew disconnected with the culture and left in 1989 to start his own vegetable business.

Family Tradition Foods was founded in 1989 only 2 months after he got married! Family Tradition Foods developed a partnership with a small vegetable operation and identified a specialty vegetable niche in the industry. This enabled them to carve a unique position in the market. 

John and his wife with their two daughters
John in front of a pile of corn, holding a few

Mr. Green Giant

In 1994, John went from producing around 8 million pounds of vegetables, to an additional 56 million pounds in 1995 through the acquisition of the Tecumseh Green Giant plant. Despite the massive growth, John stuck to his guns of developing new products that the consumers had never seen before. Many of these are now household products such as mini peas, super sweet corn, and staple mixes such as Prince Edward Medley (green beans, yellow beans and baby carrots). 

From Veggies to Fish 

Around 2007, John was approached by a large competitor & decided that his time with Family Tradition Foods had reached its peak. As an independent family-owned business, it would be difficult to continue to grow Green Giant without the financial backing larger companies had. As a result, he and his wife Shannon decided it was time to sell.

John considered himself retired for a while, although the original Family Tradition Foods plant and cold storage in Wheatley was still being run to buy and sell European fish and some local fish. After playing taxi driver for his four kids involved in extra-curriculars, he decided to dust off his briefcase and come out of his semi-retirement.

The Lasher-O cutting through waves on Lake Erie
John Omstead and the John O's Foods Team

JOF Today 

Since John's return, his team has transformed the business into a state-of-the-art fish plant that partners with a team of the best freshwater fishermen on Lake Erie. It seems everything has gone back to the Omstead Fisheries roots.

John claims it is the most fun he has had in business, with the tremendous team he has in production, sales and out on the boats.


John has continued to learn more and more about the fishing industry and John O’s Foods has grown to become one of the leading freshwater fish companies in the World!

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