Food industry responsible for 2.3 million jobs in Canada, or about 13% of country's employment, report says; food for domestic consumption responsible for 7.4% of Canada's GDP; in 2010, 16.4% of total Canadian consumption spending was on food

Graziela Medina Shepnick

Graziela Medina Shepnick

Jun 8, 2011 – The Centre for Food in Canada

OTTAWA, Ontario , June 7, 2011 (press release) – The economic impact of food in Canada extends far beyond the contribution of just those industries that grow, process and distribute it, according to Valuing Food: The Economic Contribution of Canada’s Food Sector, released today by The Conference Board of Canada. The food sector is directly responsible for generating more than nine per cent of Canadian gross domestic product (GDP).

In all, 2.3 million jobs in Canada – approximately 13 per cent of employment — are dependent on the food sector, incorporating businesses as diverse as restaurants, grocery stores, retail shops, distribution services, food manufacturing and primary producers. Most industries in Canada are, to some extent, involved in the process of growing, processing, transporting and distributing food.

Valuing Food: The Economic Contribution of Canada’s Food Sector is the first publication of the Centre for Food in Canada, a three-year Conference Board program of research and dialogue that will develop a framework for a Canadian Food Strategy.

“We have the opportunity today to create the conditions that will support the food sector’s growth as an economic engine, while also contributing to safe and healthy food choices, sustaining our environment, and providing greater access to food in Canada and around the globe,” said Anne Golden, President and CEO, The Conference Board of Canada. “A more modern and effective food sector could become an even greater force for economic and social good than it is today.”

The full economic impact – or “footprint” – of the food sector assesses the supply chains used to support domestic consumption, and those used for exports of food and food products. Using Statistics Canada’s detailed model of the industrial structure of Canada’s economy, the analysis quantifies the economy-wide impact of food produced in Canada for domestic consumption. The same exercise is used to estimate the impact of food destined for export.

In 2010, 16.4 per cent of total Canadian consumption spending was on food — defined as expenditures on food and non-alcoholic beverages, alcohol consumption, and spending at restaurants, the equivalent of $4,538 annually for every man, woman and child in Canada. Food for domestic consumption is responsible for 7.4 per cent of GDP, and 1.95 million jobs.

Canada is among a privileged group of 24 countries that are major net exporters of food. Exports contributed about $39 billion in revenue to Canada in 2010 and about 350,000 jobs. At the same time, the food sector is highly globalized and food imports make a vital contribution to the Canadian diet.

The study examines trends affecting Canada’s food sector, including two key factors shaping demand: population aging and increasing diversity. The study also notes that food awareness in Canada is on the rise. At the same time, global changes are creating strong demand for food. The report – the first of approximately 20 to be published over the next three years – identifies a number of questions that will help to inform the Centre for Food in Canada’s research.

The Centre for Food in Canada is supported by approximately 30 companies and organizations, who have invested in the project to develop a framework for a Canadian Food Strategy.

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