Explore Canada's Food and Agriculture Industry

Quality Choices and Innovative Products

A variety of offerings

Canada's food and agriculture products are as diverse as its land, its people and its seasons. From its primary producers on the farm or the fishing boat to its high-tech processing and manufacturing facilities, to its after-market and technical expertise, Canada's industry is built on leadingedge research. It also boasts up-to-date technology and knowledgeable people committed to providing the products and services you need.

Canada's natural bounty nurtures some of the world's best-quality goods which can be bought as delicious consumer-ready products, packaged under private labels, or used as ingredients in processing food and non-food products.

Canada exports top-quality grains, oilseeds and pulses, meticulously bred, carefully cultivated inspected and certified. These exports meet the particular specifications of our customers who develop products such as baked goods, beer and pasta.

Our meat products start from the finest livestock, which are sought-after by countries around the world. Our high animal health standards, scientifically developed animal care and feeding systems, and state-of the art processing technologies allow the Canadian industry to provide customers with wholesome, great-tasting meat products, whether fresh-cut, frozen or processed for soups and prepared dishes. Canada can provide halal-certified, kosher, natural and organic meat products in a variety of cuts.

Canada's fish and seafood sector has earned a reputation as a supplier of some of the best products in the world because of its dedication to quality management, innovation and sustainable management of the fishery resource. Bounded by the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans, and dotted with plentiful freshwater lakes, Canada supports more than 160 species of fish and seafood, and exports fresh, frozen, smoked and canned products to more than 130 countries.

Across the varied geography of Canada, our horticultural sector is involved in the production and packing of more than 120 different crops including vegetables, fruit, flowers and ornamental plants such as Christmas trees. Our crops range from the more commonly-known potatoes, apples, tomatoes and other greenhouse-grown products to the more exotic native fiddleheads, wild blueberries, saskatoons and cranberries. Sold fresh in North America, Canadian fruits and vegetables are also exported as frozen products, processed for the food service industry, or turned into healthy and tasty sauces, preserves, pies and flavouring ingredients. Other key horticultural crops are honey and our famous Canadian maple syrup.

Wines, spirits and beer from Canada are growing in popularity. Canada has a ready supply of quality raw ingredients, innovative processing, fermenting and brewing techniques, and a climate conducive to growing grapes for wine and grains for beer and distilled spirits. Canada is the world's largest producer of Icewine, a sweet dessert wine that derives its unique taste from grapes harvested frozen from the vines. Our wine industry has gained international recognition for its strict quality standards, introduced by the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA).

Our distilling industry produces a wide range of spirits (whisky, rum, vodka, gin, liqueurs, brandy and spirit coolers) but is best known for the production of a distinctive rye-flavoured Canadian whisky. Our brewery products are made from the same malting barley from Western Canada that is widely sought by the world's leading brewers.

The world is also drinking more Canadian bottled water than ever before. Canada holds 25 percent of the world's fresh water. Such a ready supply, combined with our clean natural environment and stringent quality standards, ensures customers get some of the highest quality bottled water in the world.

Canada's confectionery industry has a strong foreign market focus, with more than half of all production destined for export markets. Some key examples include Canadian chocolate and sugar-confectionery products. The industry's strengths lie in its innovative, high-quality products and sophisticated processes.

The functional food and nutraceutical industry is a world leader in quality and innovation, demonstrating high technology capacity throughout the value chain. Canada is a leader, for example, in developing, manufacturing and packaging essential fatty acid (EFA) products from plant and marine sources, including flaxseed, borage, hemp and marine animal oils.

Canada's food processing industry is innovative and flexible. A multicultural heritage puts our food processors in the unique position of being well equipped to satisfy foreign market tastes and preferences through a wide range of manufactured products. The highly competitive North American Free Trade Agreement market has also created a flexible industry, responsive to customer needs and changing opportunities in export markets.

Quality at the source

Canadian quality is built on two of our most valuable resources – our nature and our people. Our vast open spaces provide a rich resource for a thriving agricultural industry which is the foundation for a $90 billion food processing sector. Currently available data indicates Canada is a leader in protecting its natural landscape and preserving the quality of its soils and water. Our cool climate assists by giving our growing regions a natural “rest” period, helping to kill pests and rejuvenate the soil. Canada has instituted the Fish Habitat Management Program and the National Aquatic Animal Health Program to monitor and protect the health of our ocean and freshwater resources.

Independent economic studies have recognized Canada's leadership in turning out university and college graduates, which has benefited its food industry. Knowledgeable people, dedicated to safety, quality and good service, operate throughout the Canadian supply chain. These include primary producers, the leaders of our food manufacturing companies and the scientists who support the industry. In addition, as a nation built by immigrants, Canada is a microcosm of the world, able to adapt to the needs and preferences of customers all over the globe.

Food safety

Canada's regulatory system applies rigorous standards to regulate food production and to monitor and control the introduction and spread of pests and diseases in plants, animals and their products. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), a government body, certifies all food and many agricultural goods for export. It verifies industry compliance with federal acts and regulations by registering and regularly inspecting food processing and slaughter plants. Stringent programs are in place to test products and ensure residues comply with international standards. The CFIA operates emergency response systems for food safety in partnership with Health Canada, provincial agencies and the Canadian food industry. The CFIA also assists industry to adopt science-based risk management practices to minimize food safety risks.

The Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) is the government agency responsible for establishing and maintaining Canada's grain quality standards and certifying all exports of grain, oilseeds and pulses. The CGC monitors shipments for mycotoxins, heavy metals and fungi, in conjunction with the grain quality assurance system. This vigilance ensures Canadian grain is safe, meets the strictest international tolerances for toxic contaminants, and consistently meets market specifications for quality.

Culture of innovation

Our industry is supported by a research infrastructure that brings innovation to all areas of production. Canadian plant researchers, for example, introduced canola to the world. Canola produces oil that is gaining recognition for its health benefits and wide range of uses. Canadian food scientists also isolate new compounds in foods that can contribute to health. They help develop new food ingredients such as oat and barley fibres, or Beta-Glucans, which can be used in food products to help reduce harmful cholesterol.

Canadian innovation has also produced some of the most advanced storage and packaging techniques for fresh food products, and has developed new processing technologies to improve the shelf life of foods. One example is the fermentation process developed by Canadian researchers to expand the shelf life of kimchi, a Korean staple dish, from one month to a full year without pasteurization or preservatives. Thanks to this technology, kimchi can now be eaten as a fresh and tasty dish all year round, with improved safety over the traditional process.

Our network of researchers also assists in the continuous improvement of feeding and management practices on the farm, to provide customers with products that are safe, nutritious, flavourful and produced in a manner that protects and respects the environment. Finally, Canada is implementing advanced traceability systems that offer customers the ability to verify that products are being developed and manufactured according to their specifications.

Buy Canadian and taste the difference

Explore and discover what Canada can offer – safe, quality products to satisfy the tastes of customers world-wide. For information about Canada's agriculture and food products and suppliers, visit the Government's Agri-Food Trade Service website at www.ats-sea.agr.gc.ca.

Canada - At a Glance

  • Canadian dollar (CDN$)
  • United States dollar (US$)
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
  • GDP at market prices
    Date modified: 2017-06-21
Basic information
*Source: Euromonitor
Land area: 9,922,385 square kilometres
Population: 36.3 million (2016)*
Total GDP: CDN$ 2.0 trillion (2016)*
GPD/capita: CDN$ 55,926 (2016)*
GDP growth rate: 1.4% (2016)*
Capital city: Ottawa
Prime Minister: Justin Trudeau
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food: Lawrence MacAuley
Canadian agri-food trade (CDN$ million)
Trade 2014 2015 2016
Source: Statistics Canada
Domestic Agri-Food Exports: 51,604.069 55,636.356 55,977.755
Agri-Food Imports: 39,461.804 43,515.143 44,522.798
Agri-Food Trade Balance: 12,142.264 12,121.213 11,454.957
Canadian top 5 agri-food exports (CDN$ million)
Exports 2014 2015 2016
Source: Statistics Canada
Domestic Agri-Food Exports: 51,604.069 55,636.356 55,977.755
Canola seeds 5,149.683 4,954.913 5,631.925
Non-durum wheat, other than seed for sowing 5,771.165 5,882.929 4,454.070
Soybeans, other than seed for sowing 1,904.695 2,237.747 2,460.999
Lentils, dried, shelled 1,462.030 2,493.276 2,125.066
Bakery products 1,205.051 1,619.250 1,912.870
Canadian top 5 agri-food imports (CDN$ million)
Imports 2014 2015 2016
Source: Statistics Canada
Agri-Food Imports: 39,461.804 43,515.143 44,522.798
Grape wines < 2 Litres 1,895.897 2,017.323 2,047.665
Food preparations 1,377.131 1,560.708 1,706.380
Bakery products 1,228.922 1,403.040 1,444.608
Dog and cat food, for retail sale 727.745 805.851 827.072
Coffee, not roasted, not decaffeinated 713.805 798.305 825.024
Canadian top 5 seafood exports (CDN$ million)
Seafood exports 2014 2015 2016
Source: Statistics Canada
Domestic Seafood Exports: 4,921.285 5,979.426 6,565.934
Frozen crab 758.957 818.055 925.725
Frozen lobster 668.045 820.610 867.725
Lobster, not frozen 600.099 861.831 839.354
Frozen Atlantic and Danube salmon 364.460 603.857 838.940
Prepared lobster 250.969 350.788 441.022
Canadian total merchandise trade (CDN$ million)
Merchandise trade 2014 2015 2016
Source: Global Trade Atlas
Total Merchandise Exports: 526,772.881 524,048.892 517,007.062
Total Merchandise Imports: 512,199.972 536,296.449 533,342.246
Trade Balance: 14,572.909 -12,247.557 -16,335.184
Canadian top 10 total merchandise exports (CDN$ million)
Merchandise exports 2014 2015 2016
Source: Global Trade Atlas
Total Merchandise Exports: 526,772.881 524,048.892 517,007.062
Vehicles, other than railway 66,344.422 77,054.559 85,161.004
Mineral fuels and oils 142,455.123 99,157.217 82,545.614
Boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances 36,100.146 39,776.864 39,721.104
Precious metals, stones or pearls 24,115.467 24,463.607 25,111.602
Wood and articles of wood 13,968.648 14,930.241 17,461.603
Electrical machinery and equipment 15,086.897 16,880.259 16,729.747
Plastics and articles thereof 14,567.858 15,944.071 16,062.109
Aircraft and spacecraft 13,756.885 15,782.932 13,614.234
Pharmaceutical products 7,816.991 9,864.642 11,122.107
Aluminum and articles thereof 9,788.146 10,504.236 10,702.434
Canadian top 10 total merchandise imports (CDN$ million)
Merchandise Imports 2014 2015 2016
Source: Global Trade Atlas
Total Merchandise Imports: 512,199.972 536,296.449 533,342.246
Vehicles, other than railway 77,997.124 85,377.193 89,324.891
Boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances 74,711.284 81,220.710 81,905.529
Electrical machinery and equipment 48,760.525 52,793.187 52,493.358
Mineral fuels and oils 52,870.733 37,865.756 33,480.706
Plastics and articles thereof 17,774.300 19,093.092 19,523.820
Optical and medical instruments 14,177.668 15,669.769 15,828.758
Pharmaceutical products 13,800.187 14,560.049 15,132.186
Precious metals, stones or pearls 14,137.139 13,958.408 13,946.756
Furniture 10,190.739 11,166.437 11,622.872
Articles of iron or steel 12,956.244 12,496.274 11,168.905
Date modified: