Shifting Protein Trends - Canada's 2024 Agricultural Outlook

Jan 17, 2024

By Jean-Paul McDonald

As reported by Farm Credit Canada, Economics, the Canadian agricultural sector in 2024 is witnessing significant shifts in protein consumption patterns.  

With a projected -1.2% decline in pork production due to global oversupply and margin pressures, Canadian producers are navigating a challenging landscape. This comes at a time when domestic demand for pork is increasing, driven by consumers opting for more affordable protein sources. 

 Canadian pork production will be under pressure again in 2024 

Canadian pork production will be under pressure again in 2024 

The changing food preferences have broader implications for Canadian agriculture, both domestically and in export markets. As the demand for diverse and high-quality proteins rises, the landscape of consumption is evolving. Notably, Canadian beef consumption is on a long-term decline, yet demand remains robust, influenced by factors like price and income. 

Plant-based proteins are gaining traction, with the market in Canada growing annually by 4.8% in 2017 and expected to rise by 5.6% by 2022. Field pea proteins are showing remarkable growth, expected to reach a market value of US$359.4 million in 2022. This trend presents new opportunities for Canadian pulse growers, with the domestic market projected to hit US$31.6 million by 2022. 

Consumer preferences play a crucial role in this shift. Studies from the University of Saskatchewan and a joint study by Wageningen University, Michigan State, and Purdue indicate a preference for beef burgers over plant-based alternatives when prices are identical, with plant-based burgers holding a 15-20% market share. 

Quality also matters, as evidenced by the growing price spread between AAA and AA beef cutout values. The relative prices between animal and plant-based proteins will continue to shape consumer purchases, suggesting a future with a diverse protein supply. 

Looking at global trends, especially in emerging markets like Asia, meat consumption is set to grow, albeit at a slower rate than before. The OECD Agricultural Outlook projects a global annual growth rate of 1.10% for meat consumption over the next decade, with emerging countries leading the pace.  

This opens opportunities for Canadian exports, especially to countries in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), like Vietnam and Malaysia. 

Canadian agriculture in 2024 is at a crossroads of evolving consumer preferences and market dynamics. Understanding these trends is crucial for agribusinesses to stay competitive and seize opportunities in both domestic and international markets. 

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