Immigration Fuels New Agriculture Opportunity

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City Hall Sounds features food, music, and great people all working toward a goal of building a better Thunder Bay
Thunder Bay City Hall Sounds
City Hall Sounds features food, music, and great people all working toward a goal of building a better Thunder Bay

WINNIPEG – “Canada’s growing immigrant population is creating new opportunities for Canadian food producers and processors”, according to J.P. Gervais, Farm Credit Canada’s (FCC) Chief Agricultural Economist. “As immigration patterns change, there are significant opportunities for Canadian agriculture to respond to the evolving needs of domestic customers,” commented Gervais, assessing the current and long-term impact of immigration on food consumption.

“The potential for catering to new Canadians exists for primary producers, processors and retailers.”

According to Statistics Canada projections, by 2020 immigration will account for 2.2 million new Canadians and two-thirds of Canada’s population growth. Over the next seven years, this growth could generate $27 billion in additional food purchases, according to FCC.

Across Northwestern Ontario, through the Northwestern Ontario Immigration Portal, there are several inquires per day coming in from people looking to move to the area. 

In Thunder Bay the opening of new restaurants catering to a more diverse palate are evidence of the changing multicultural mix in the city.

“The domestic population increase will be driven largely by immigration, impacting the amount of food purchased, and the type of food consumed,” Gervais said. “Businesses that can readily adapt to these changes in food preferences, as well as quickly develop new food products, stand to benefit the most from this growth.”

Where immigrants to Canada come from is also changing. In 2001, 42 per cent of Canada’s immigrant population came from Europe, while 37 per cent came from Asia. In 2011, the Asian component increased to 45 per cent, while 32 per cent originated from Europe. By 2031, Statistics Canada projects that 55 per cent of Canada’s immigrant population will come from Asia and 21 per cent from Europe.

Agriculture and Agri-food Canada research suggests there will be a growing demand for certain food products, such as poultry and chickpeas, which builds on well-established food consumption trends.

Since 2001, Canada’s population has grown at an average annual rate of one per cent, but the quantity of poultry sold has increased by 4.4 per cent annually. Although poultry consumption is growing for a number of reasons, immigration is influencing this trend. Similar to poultry, chickpea consumption is growing at about 10 per cent annually. 

Greater exposure to ethnic foods often results in greater integration of these foods into domestic diets.

“Canadians continue to be exposed to new foods, suggesting that the growth in ethnic food consumption could actually outpace the growth of the ethnic population,” Gervais said. “While the impact of immigration will vary across Canada and across agriculture sectors, there are new opportunities.”

By sharing agriculture economic knowledge and forecasts, FCC provides solid insights and expertise to help those in the business of agriculture achieve their goals. 

More information and insights on this topic can be found in the October 4 edition of the FCC Express:

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