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Canada becoming more self-sufficient in fresh fruit and vegetable production

The Canadian climate is not always friendly to the production of many fresh fruits and vegetables resulting in limited production during the winter months. However, growth in the greenhouse and vertical farming space, along with more output in traditional production of field fruit and vegetables, has resulted in more homegrown fruits and vegetables – and a lesser (though still prevalent) reliance on imports for consumption. Stronger reliance on Canadian fresh fruit and vegetable production is a positive development for both producers and consumers given uncertain foreign production and trade.

A wider look at Canadian food production
It's a trope we hear quite often: Canada – a nation blessed with an abundance of raw agriculture commodities – doesn't have enough value-added capacity at home, that its raw materials are simply shipped out of country to be processed elsewhere, and that this is a missed economic opportunity. But is it true?

Let's begin with this fact: in aggregate, Canada simply grows more agriculture commodities and produces more food than its population is capable of consuming. Agriculture is an export dependent industry. Let's also not discount the current strength of the Canadian food and beverage manufacturing sector: it is the largest manufacturing sector in the country, accounting for over 19% of all manufacturing sales in 2023 and providing employment for over 300,000 people. That said, the percentage of Canadian food products that are consumed within our borders has declined recently. At the beginning of the century, Canada produced about 80% of its own food needs; that number fell to 70% in 2015 and has maintained that level over the last decade. There's more that can be done in this space, but the Canadian food industry is, in aggregate, on solid footing.

Reliance on fresh fruit and vegetables imports is declining
However, there are plenty of foods that we consume (e.g., fresh fruits and vegetables) that aren't all manufactured (e.g., like bread and sausages). Here, we need to take a different approach to measuring our own domestic production capacity – and reliance (or lack thereof) with trade partners.


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