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Economic Overview

The Canadian Meat Industry: An Economic Engine for the Nation

The food and beverage processing industry is Canada’s most important manufacturing sector and the meat industry is the largest component of the food and beverage processing sector.

With close to 65,000 employees, Canada’s 700 meat processing and cold storage establishments registered total annual revenue exceeding $24 billion in 2014. This is greater than the sales of manufacturing sectors such as: plastics and rubber products ($20.9 billion); wood products ($18.9 billion); computer and electronic products ($15.5 billion); electrical equipment, appliances and components ($9.6 billion); and, furniture and related products ($10.7 billion).

The impact of the meat processing industry extends well beyond the direct jobs that the sector provides in both rural and urban Canada. Meat processors offer a vital, but indirect, market outlet for Canadian grain, oilseed and forage producers as well as direct sales opportunities for livestock farmers located throughout this country. Furthermore, they provide indirect jobs for the thousands of Canadians who are employed by companies that offer equipment, products and services to meat processors as well as for many indirect jobs in truck, rail and air transportation.

Although total purchases of meat rise or dip marginally from year to year in response to variations in supply, demand and price, there has been little change during the past three decades in Canadians’ per capita enjoyment of wholesome and nutritious meat products.  In 1982, the total consumption of meat per person was 75.39 kilograms; in 2011, per capita consumption totalled 75.38 kilograms.