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With 14.5 billion in sales in 2016, food manufacturing has overtaken refined petroleum as the largest manufacturing sector in Alberta
Alberta exports primary and processed agricultural and food products to over 140 countries
Calgary has emerged as a centre for agribusiness. With proximity to high value land, access to distribution channels and a focus on innovation, many multinational leaders call Calgary home. The sector continues to evolve thanks to an established strength in food processing, smart agriculture, specialized research and training and the growth of niche crops.
Significant opportunities exist for businesses in areas as diverse as value-added food and meat processing and manufacturing, crop sciences and animal genetics, beverage manufacturing, agri-technologies, and agri-finance and business services.
Alberta is home to over one-fifth of the total farm land in Canada. A distinguishing feature is that Alberta’s farm land is irrigated. The irrigation area within the province represents 65% of all of the total irrigation area across Canada.
Irrigation districts enable the cultivation of a greater diversity of crops than what could be grown otherwise. Irrigation offsets the disparity in moisture throughout the season and increases the chance of producing a quality and high yielding crop. Specialty products such as hybrid canola seed, sugar beets, potatoes and forage for intensive livestock operations are grown in Alberta thanks to our irrigation infrastructure.
Alberta has established an advantage producing plant-based protein and pulse crops including field peas, dry beans, chickpeas, lentils, soybeans and faba beans. There is a rising global demand for these crops and Canada now accounts for approximately 35 per cent of the global pulse trade each year.
Calgary’s air, rail and road access to key North American and international markets enable local firms to sell their products globally.
Calgary is intersected by the Trans-Canada Highway (east/west) and Highway 2 (north/south), the CANAMEX corridor. Distribution centers in Calgary can reach 4 million consumers in a one-day round trip and 16 million within a one-day, one-direction truck trip.
Intermodal facilities for two Class 1 railways and Canada’s fourth busiest airport provide efficient access to consumer markets worldwide. Over 75 per cent of Alberta’s air cargo shipments are transported through YYC Calgary International Airport. YYC offers direct air cargo service to Europe, U.K., Asia and Mexico. Distribution companies including FedEx, Purolator, UPS and DHL have cargo centres at the airport.
Due to its location in the heart of Alberta and the strength of the agriculture sector here, multinational industry leaders have major operations in Calgary. Firms include Dow AgroSciences, Bayer Crop Science, Agrium, Old Dutch, Cargill, Sofina Foods, AGRI-TREND and Alta Genetics.
These firms represent key decision makers in the industry and are leaders in agricultural innovation. They are also premier employers of high value jobs in the sector.
Post-secondary institutions in and around Calgary are educating the next generation of agricultural leaders. Schools including the University of Calgary, SAIT and Olds College offer specialized training in horticulture, food safety and quality, livestock genetics, crop science and veterinary sciences contribute to a vibrant talent base.
These post-secondary schools, along with specialized institutes, are also leading the advancement of science and technology for livestock, field crops, food processing and food safety. Alberta has approximately 55 researchers focused on food research and innovation.
The application of technology including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) and GIS mapping is allowing for more productive collection of farming data for crop and livestock management and monitoring. Alberta has over 70 companies, military agencies and educational institutions working on UAV research, testing and manufacturing.
Food manufacturing is the largest manufacturing sector in Alberta. In 2016, Alberta’s food manufacturing sales were 23% of total manufacturing sales in the province.
Calgary is home to multinationals, medium-sized and niche food and beverage processing and manufacturing companies. Global meat processors including Cargill, JBS, Harmony Beef and Sofina Foods have large operations in southern Alberta.
Read about today’s advantages and opportunities in the agribusiness sector in a recent study conducted by Calgary Economic Development and Deloitte.
Agricultural industries have been a mainstay of the Calgary economy for more than a century. Watch our agribusiness video to see why Calgary is a global leader in smart and sustainable agriculture for the future.Learn more
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