MRO Magazine

Importance of the food and bev industry

August 1, 2023 | By Mario Cywinski

Photo: AleksandarGeorgiev / Getty Images

Photo: AleksandarGeorgiev / Getty Images

In many ways, the food processing industry in Canada, is what allows everyone to have access to fresh food on a daily basis.

According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s 2022 numbers, the food and beverage processing sector is the largest manufacturing sector in Canada (in terms of GDP and employment). It contains 18.1 per cent of all manufacturing jobs, and 17.3 per cent of manufacturing GDP.

While facilities are spread all over Canada, the biggest concentration is in Ontario and Quebec.

Food processing sales were $141.6 billion in 2022.
Meat product manufacturing (27.2 per cent) – $38.5 billion;
Grain and oilseed milling (14.3 per cent) – $20.3 billion;
Dairy product manufacturing (12.3 per cent) – $17.4 billion; and,
Bakeries and tortilla processing (11.3 per cent) – $16.0 billion.


If we look at the agri-food system as a whole (which is a well oiled supply chain machine), it employs 2.3 million people, which equates to around one in nine jobs in Canada, an provides around seven per cent ($143.8 billion) of Canada’s GDP.

Job breakdown by part of the system.
Primary agriculture – 249,000;
Food and beverage processors – 323,200;
Food retailers and wholesalers – 684,200;
Food service providers – 907,200.

Looking at things internationally, overall Canada is the world’s fifth largest exporter of agri-food and seafood in the world. Trailing only the EU-27 (European block), United States, Brazil, and China. While Canada exports to nearly 200 countries worldwide, a large chunk goes to the U.S. and China. In all Canada exported $92.8 billion worth of products in 2022.

Conversely, Canadians spent $189.7 billion on food/beverage/tobacco products in 2022, which ranks as the third highest spend behind only transportation and shelter.

While we may look at operations in the industry to be large in nature only one per cent of food processing establishments have over 500 employees, with 91 per cent having under 100, and eight per cent having between 100 and 500 employees.

What does this data mean?
Ultimately, that the food beverage sector in Canada is a large part of its economy, employs a large part of its citizens, and feeds the domestic and international market.


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