With direct access to a strong agricultural base, Calgary and Southern Alberta is a well-connected region with clear collaboration across geographic areas, industries, and research and training institutions. We have experts in all things Ag – including primary production, protein development, agtech innovation, animal health, and food safety and traceability, making this region a hotspot for Canadian and global food and technology suppliers.
Proximity to agricultural base
Southern Alberta has historically been an agricultural area, with large-scale production of acreage crops, protein crops, livestock, and greenhouses. The region has ample access to water and enjoys a sunny climate, favourable to growing. Farm land area in Alberta amounts to 50,350,183 acres, covering about one-third of the province. This is even more concentrated in the Calgary and Southern Alberta region. When looking specifically at Southern Alberta, the region boasts some of Alberta’s best growing land, including almost 70% of Canada’s total irrigated area. Irrigated land in a dry province such as Alberta allows for a greater variety of crops to be grown, diversifying our potential exports from wheat, oats, and pulse crops to include vegetables and some fruits. In 2018, Alberta’s agrifood exports represented 19.3% of Canada’s total agrifood exports, at $11.2 billion.
Anchor firms call Calgary home
Due to its location in the heart of Southern Alberta, Calgary offers proximity to customers and primary agricultural commodities. In fact, in a 20-minute drive you can go from a major metropolitan city to being on an actual farm. With the strength of our agriculture sector, multinational industry leaders have major operations in the city. These firms represent key decision makers in the industry, employers of high-value jobs and are leaders in agricultural innovation.
Western Canada’s Inland Port
Calgary’s air, rail and road access to key North American and international markets make Calgary an ideal distribution hub for firms to sell their products globally. Calgary is intersected by the Trans-Canada Highway (east/west) and Highway 2 (north/south), the CANAMEX corridor, allowing companies to reach millions of consumers within a one-day trip. Intermodal facilities for two Class 1 railways and one of Canada’s busiest airports provide efficient access to consumer markets worldwide.
The Next Generation
Post-secondary institutions in and around Calgary are educating the next generation of agricultural leaders. Schools offering specialized training in horticulture, food safety and quality, livestock genetics, crop science and veterinary sciences contribute to a vibrant talent base. These research and training institutions have demonstrated an interest in collaboration and strengthening the training offerings of the region and are home to promising applied research projects like the Olds SmartFarm.
Deep Talent Pool
With a history rooted in agriculture and a critical mass of companies, Calgary is home to a workforce with specialized skills and technical talent. In 2019, Alberta’s agri-food industry employed 77,200 people, throughout various subsectors and specialties. In Alberta, 64% of the province aged 25-64 has a postsecondary education, the largest proportion of Canada’s Western provinces. The region’s agricultural training institutions also help to create a potential workforce with relevant knowledge and training in agriculture.
The Future of Agriculture
Closely linked to these institutions is a strong research and innovation presence in the region, specifically within the production element of the agricultural value chain. The area is known for rapid adoption of new technology, with a strong applied research presence. In 2020, the University of Calgary announced the creation of the Simpson Centre for Agricultural and Food Innovation and Public Education, highlighting significant effort to grow research capability in agrifood and agribusiness with a social and economic context.
Calgary-Olds Smart Agri-Food Corridor
A unique partnership between Calgary Economic Development and Olds College, the corridor leverages Calgary’s global corporate presence and distribution hub with Olds College’s Smart Farm applied research pillar and integrated learning. Through the corridor, companies and entrepreneurs have access to a world-class agribusiness environment that supports the development and scaling of new technologies designed to drive innovation in smart agri-food production.Learn More
United Farmers of Alberta and Zone Startups Calgary, an accelerator for pilot-ready tech startups, announced a partnership to support early-stage ag technology companies with technical and commercial validation through their program offerings.View Website
2020 Agribusiness Market Study
See why Calgary is the engine of the agriculture industry and what’s driving the region’s agribusiness ecosystem.Download Report Download Fact Sheet
Agri-tech is the use of technology in agriculture, horticulture, and aquaculture, with the aim of improving yield, quality, efficiency, and profitability. Alberta has one of the world’s most productive agricultural economies and with the growing tech influence of Calgary, the opportunities for agri-tech are growing rapidly.
Leading the way
Agriculture has always been a staple of Calgary’s economy, and this sector continues to evolve thanks to innovative companies creating and applying leading-edge technologies.
Precision agriculture is the future for the industry, and Alberta farmers and manufacturers are adopting technologies to grow new crops and significantly improve their products and processes. With a growth projection of 13% year-over-year, Calgary’s agribusiness sector is forecasted to invest $246 million in digital transformation by 2024.
Innovating the industry
Post-secondary schools, along with specialized institutes, are leading the advancement of innovation and agri-tech for livestock, field crops, food processing and food safety.
The Werklund School of Agriculture Technology will give students access to hands on, high-tech learning experiences through the Olds College Smart Farm. The Smart Ag Innovation Centre and the new agri-tech learning hub is scheduled to open in fall 2022. The School will offer students new agri-tech programs, including the Precision Agriculture – Techgronomy Diploma and Agriculture Technology Integration Post-Diploma Certificate.View Website
The Government of Alberta is building the value-added agriculture processing capacity to bolster economic activity with an aggressive private investment attraction target of $1.4 billion.
Alberta exports agricultural and food products to over 150 countries. These are some of the made-in-Alberta companies.
A solid reputation
Alberta has a reputation for high-quality, safe food and beverage products. The food processing industry is highly regulated, ensuring common standards of quality and safety. Alberta is known for its ag commodities including grain, pulses and livestock, but also produces key products including ready-to-eat packaged food and beverages, food products and ingredients, and some emerging niche and premium products.
The Calgary advantage
Food manufacturing is the largest manufacturing sector in Alberta. With expertise in value-added food processing, multinationals, medium-sized and niche food and beverage processing and manufacturing, companies are choosing to locate in Calgary.
Calgary-based Botaneco Inc. was the first company to receive funding from Protein Industries Canada to further commercialize its technology and research applications in the food, personal care and animal feed markets.View Website
The Meatless Farm Co.
The Meatless Farms Co. is a UK-based producer of meat-based alternatives that currently supplies over 450 Whole Foods Stores in the U.S. and has partnered with Loblaws in Canada to provide meatless, gluten-free food products.View Website
Sleeman Breweries, Canada’s third-largest brewery and a subsidiary of the Japanese multinational beer giant Sapporo Breweries, acquired Calgary-based Wild Rose Brewery, setting the stage for them to accelerate growth in the province.View Website
Sofina Foods is a 304,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility. They choose to grow in Calgary due to its proximity to farmers that supply them, access to major transportation networks, the large personnel pool in the city, utility infrastructure and a municipal government that offers strong support for the ag sector.View Website
Research & innovation
Calgary, Alberta, and Western Canada are leading the way in research and innovation for food processing, agri-tech and production.
Calgary is an opportunity-rich city
Our interactive investment map highlights the foreign direct investment (FDI) that has taken place in the Calgary area over the past six years.Explore Investment in Calgary
Investing in digital transformation
It is projected Alberta’s agribusiness sector will spend $684 million on digital transformation (DX) by 2024, a 13% year-over-year growth projection. See how agribusiness is leading digital transformation on our DX spend dashboard.Learn More
Team Calgary partners
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Business Development Manager, Agriculture