Economic Strategy - Agri-Food Table

Positioning Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sectors for long-term growth.

Chair

Murad Al-Katib, AGT Food & Ingredients

Members

Federal representatives

Producer Advisory Council

The producer advisory council will help inform the work of the Agri-Food Table.

Meetings

October 24, 2017 Location: Woodbridge, Ontario

Focus

The table affirmed the need to look at the agri-food sector as a whole (including primary agriculture, fish, seafood, aquaculture, food processing, infrastructure and food service ) in order to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated approach to its future growth.

What we talked about

  1. Participants spoke positively to the potential of the Canadian sector to help meet growing global demand for food. They also brought their unique perspectives to the table on the challenges facing the industry to be a sector of accelerated growth.
  2. Building upon introductory presentations on the state of play of Canadian innovation and the issues facing the agri-food sector, the table discussed the need for innovation in the sector, both to be at the leading edge of global competitors but also to meet consumers’ changing expectations of food and food products. The table also noted that Canada can be risk averse in developing and adopting innovations.
  3. Initial targets that were discussed include increasing exports, with a reference to the $75 billion ambitious growth target for 2025 set out in the Advisory Council on Economic Growth report, as well as increasing the amount of value added domestically to Canadian agricultural products.
  4. In discussing the competitive landscape, the table was interested in further exploring i) benchmarking Canada’s innovation output and rate of technology adoption against other global leaders, ii) analyzing infrastructure requirements to support capacity growth, iii) exploring strategies to increase scale-up of firms and support industry leaders in competing globally, and iv) finding opportunities for a regulatory approach that supports growth.

What we'll do next

  • Analytics to dive deeper into exploring how other countries have addressed these issues and reflect on these considering the unique Canadian experience while recognizing the different competitive pressures within the broad agri-food sector.
  • Advisory councils will be established with key stakeholders to inform the table’s work. The table will continue to encourage industry participants and all Canadians to share their views and ideas for transformative change in the sector throughout the course of this initiative, via the Economic Stratety Tables website and targeted outreach.

As the leader of a Canadian company with strong domestic roots, I think we are at a critical point in time in terms of the opportunities for our agri-food sector.

Agri-Food Table Member, October 24, 2017
December 12, 2017 Location: Toronto, Ontario

Focus

The Agri-Food Table held its second meeting on December 12 in Toronto, Ontario. The main focus of the meeting was to refine elements of the vision statement and identify the priority themes that will drive the Table’s future work.

What we talked about

  1. Dominic Barton, Chair of the Minister of Finance’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth, spoke to the Table about the vision for Canada’s agri-food sector and the opportunities for economic growth being driven by population growth and a bourgeoning middle-class, particularly with regard to protein and value-added products. This led to a discussion highlighting the diversity of markets and consumer products, the importance of tailoring growth strategies according to consumer demand and Canada’s competitive advantages, and the need to synchronize government policy and regulations accordingly.
  2. Members reviewed the thematics proposed at the first Table meeting on October 24, and, in light of the morning’s discussions, coalesced on the priority themes that will drive the Table’s forward work: i) innovation and value-added opportunities, ii) technology and digitization, iii) infrastructure and regulations, iv) market access and export growth, and v) skills and labour.
  3. Members emphasized the need to be competitive. This can be accomplished by a business environment that keeps production costs competitive, but also by strategies such as product differentiation, reputation and branding, or pursuing markets for premium products.
  4. The Table discussed challenges to attract and retain workforce, and the impacts technology and automation will have for both the supply and demand of skills in the future.

What we'll do next

  • A vision statement based on outcomes of the Table's discussions will be drafted.
  • Additional analysis will be undertaken to explore the sectors and markets that have driven growth in the Canadian agri-food sector in recent years, along with global and domestic demand forecasts. A list of key government initiatives that are of relevance to the Agri-Food Table's work will also be provided.
  • The Producer Advisory Council will meet on December 18 and on January 15 in order to discuss the technology/digitization and market access/export growth themes, which will be the focus of the Table's next meeting on January 18.

Synchronization between our industrial growth strategies and the government’s policy and regulatory agenda is crucial to success.

Agri-food Table Member, December 12, 2017
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