Canada's 2023 Food Export Boom Amidst Global Trade Turbulence

Nov 17, 2023

By Jean-Paul McDonald

In 2023, the global trade landscape has been marked by significant shifts, especially in the agricultural sector. Canada, amidst these changes, has shown growth in its processed food exports. This success story is supported by the country's strategic trade relationships and a diversified export portfolio. 

The growth of Canada has been largely attributed to its resilience amidst the pandemic and geopolitical tensions, which significantly impacted global food security and trade patterns, despite supply chain disruptions. 

Russia's war against Ukraine and tensions between China and the U.S. have further altered traditional trade patterns, leading to trends in friend-shoring and onshoring. Despite these challenges, Canada's food exports have grown, especially in processed foods. 

In 2023, there was a 7% increase in food manufacturing exports compared to the 2020-2022 average. This growth is particularly evident in the U.S., China, Japan, Mexico, and the EU markets. 

The U.S. has been a standout market for Canada, accounting for 80% of its total food and beverage exports. The growth drivers in this market include grain and oilseed milling, fruit/vegetable/specialty food manufacturing, meat product manufacturing, and bakeries and tortilla manufacturing.  

Notably, exports to Mexico in the fruit/vegetable/specialty food category have increased by 76%. 

Exports to other major markets like China, Japan, and the EU have seen a decline from their pandemic highs. This can be linked to a combination of supply and demand forces. For instance, production deficits and supply chain issues have curtailed supply, while inflationary pressures have shrunk demand. 

The beverage sector in Canada faces challenges due to changing global alcohol consumption patterns and domestic production issues. Seafood product preparation and packaging is another category that has seen negative growth, impacted by factors such as competition from Norwegian and Chilean suppliers in the U.S. market. 

The grain and oilseed milling sector has benefited from larger supplies in 2022 and 2023 compared to the drought-reduced 2021 crop. Exports to the EU have been significantly impacted by inflationary pressures and energy costs stemming from the Russia-Ukraine war. 

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