Canada was the fourth largest exporter of potato products in 2019, worth just over $1 billion, Farm Credit Canada’s (FCC) latest trade report released on Nov. 17, says.
The expansion of the Western diet globally has increased demand for french fries and potato products, the report notes. While the United Kingdom is the largest and fastest growing importer, there are opportunities for expansion with other trading partners, such as western and eastern European countries and China.
Overall the report notes Canada’s greatest opportunity for growth in global trade is the food and beverage processing industry.
“World population growth, higher purchasing power in emerging markets and new trade agreements are key factors in potentially creating more opportunities for Canada to increase exports,” said J.P. Gervais, FCC’s chief agricultural economist, says in a news release about the report.
Canada has long been a major exporter of both agricultural commodities and food, ranking fifth as a global agriculture commodity exporter and 12th as a processed and prepared food and beverage exporter in 2019, the report says.
In 2019, Canada’s total food, beverage and commodity exports were worth roughly $67 billion, an increase of almost 10 per cent since 2015, the report notes. Food exports increased by 27.8 per cent. Food and beverage exports represented less than half of the total value of the country’s agriculture, food and beverage exports.
Canada’s agri-food industry has so far been able to adjust to COVID-19 challenges and meet the needs of Canadian and export customers, yet the disruptions to global food supply chains and trade caused by the pandemic underscore the need for Canada to diversify its export markets and seize related growth and diversification advantages, the report notes.
The report indicates diversification of the country’s export markets can help reduce financial risks for Canadian producers by lessening our dependency on current major markets. When borders close for any number of reasons, due to trade tensions or shock caused by disease or weather, having a broader range of export markets allows Canadian exports to be re-allocated, rather than reduced.
“Disruptions caused by the pandemic serve as a wakeup call at a time when global supply and demand of food are also becoming increasingly difficult to gauge,” Gervais says. “Canada has an opportunity to fortify and strengthen its position as a major food exporter by exploring new markets and ensuring we are not overly reliant on a few.”