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Food sector responsible for more than 9 per cent of GDP: study


The economic impact of food in Canada isn’t limited to only those industries that grow, process and distribute it, says the first study from The Conference Board of Canada.

Valuing Food: The Economic Contribution of Canada's Food Sector is the first publication of the Centre for Food in Canada, a three-year Conference Board program of research and dialogue that will develop a framework for a Canadian Food Strategy.

The study says that the food sector is directly responsible for generating more than nine per cent of Canadian gross domestic product (GDP).

Also, 2.3 million jobs­–approximately 13 per cent of employment–are dependent on the food sector, from restaurants, grocery stores, retail shops, distribution services, food manufacturing and primary producers.

"We have the opportunity today to create the conditions that will support the food sector's growth as an economic engine, while also contributing to safe and healthy food choices, sustaining our environment, and providing greater access to food in Canada and around the globe," said Anne Golden, president and CEO, The Conference Board of Canada. "A more modern and effective food sector could become an even greater force for economic and social good than it is today."

In 2010, 16.4 per cent of total Canadian consumption spending was on food or the equivalent of $4,538 annually for every man, woman and child in Canada.

Meanwhile, food for domestic consumption is responsible for 7.4 per cent of GDP, and 1.95 million jobs.

Canada is among a select group of 24 countries that are major net exporters of food, with  exports contributing about $39 billion in revenue to Canada in 2010 and about 350,000 jobs.

At the same time, the food sector is highly globalized with food imports a large part of the Canadian diet.

The study also examined trends affecting Canada's food sector, including population aging and increasing diversity. It found that food awareness in Canada is on the rise while global changes are creating strong demand for food.

The report is the first of approximately 20 to be published over the next three years will help to inform the Centre for Food in Canada's research.

Approximately 30 companies and organizations support the Centre for Food in Canada and they are looking to develop a framework for a Canadian Food Strategy.

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