Created on 11/5/2020 1:36:28 PM
Written by Michael Graydon, CEO of Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada
Published on October 7, 2020
This week, as Ontario celebrates Agriculture week, Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada (FHCP) celebrates the connections between the hard-working farmers who grow Canada’s agricultural riches and the nation’s largest manufacturing workforce, who transform farmers’ crops into the food Canadians rely on every day.
At FHCP, we know that what is good for farmers is good for food, and vice versa. It’s only fitting that as home to a proud farming tradition and more than 70,000 farmers, Ontario is also one of North America’s most significant hubs for food processing. The province is home to nearly 3,000 food and beverage processing facilities, and nearly 115,000 Ontarians work in the sector. Ontario sells more than $32 billion a year in food alone, according to the province’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs.
In many ways, food processing serves as a bridge between urban and rural communities in Ontario and across Canada, providing stable, lucrative markets at home and abroad for Canadian farmers. Canadian food processors buy 65 percent of farmers’ output in Ontario alone, adding value here at home and producing high-quality Canadian goods that are in high demand by consumers at home and overseas.
The importance of a secure, stable, resilient food supply has never been more visible or more widely understood as it is now, in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The entire agri-food community is critical not only to feeding and caring for Canadians but also to powering Canada’s economy and our post-COVID recovery.
That’s why it is critical that Ontario and all provinces, along with the federal government, ensure our farmers and food processing sector can reach our full potential. The more we strengthen our food processing sector and supply chain, the more value we can keep at home and the more jobs we can create. Canada has untapped capacity and is losing opportunities to invest in expanding food processing. For example, we have 34 times more farmland than the Netherlands, yet we export only half as much value-added food.
As we look ahead to future Agriculture Weeks, let’s make sure Canada strengthens food processing, increases high-value production, and benefits from the new jobs and innovation our sector can bring. Together we can keep more “Grown in Canada” ingredients producing “Made in Canada” food and supporting all of us here at home.