Food for thought: 2010 B.C. Agri-food Year in Review

Food for thought: 2010 B.C. Agri-food Year in Review

Ministry of Agriculture

What do 62,000 tonnes of tomatoes, 656 million litres of  milk, over 900,000 kilograms (about two million pounds) of honey, and 61,000 British Columbians have in common?

All contributed to B.C.’s $9.6-billion agri-food industry in 2010, and all are included in the Ministry of Agriculture’s 2010 Agri-Food Year in Review that was released this fall.

“British Columbian food products are in demand around the world as a trusted and great-tasting source of high-quality nutrition. Agriculture is a staple of B.C.’s economy and we’re focused on expanding our markets into places like Asia in order to further grow our industry,” said Don McRae, Minister of Agriculture.

The 16-page report highlights British Columbia’s diverse agri-food industry, and summarizes production and export data for B.C.’s livestock, fruit and vegetable producers as well as the province’s food and beverage processors. Some interesting facts in the report include:

Exports

• B.C. exported $2.5 billion of food to more than 135 countries in 2010 with $1.6 billion exported to the U.S.A.

• Japan, China, Hong Kong and South Korea complete B.C.’s top five agri-food export markets.

• As Canada’s Pacific Gateway, B.C. is the closest connection Asian markets have to North America, and our ports deliver hundreds of millions of dollars worth of B.C. food products each year to customers in China and Japan.

• About half of all livestock and poultry product exports are to Asia, with 40 per cent exported to the U.S.A.

• Japan is the biggest of 23 export markets for B.C. pork, and the Philippines are the biggest importer of B.C. chicken.

• B.C. wine exports have skyrocketed since 2008, from $1.4 to $5.5 million, due to rapidly increasing demand for high-quality wine in Asia.

• French Polynesia is B.C.’s fifth-largest export market for fruit and vegetable juice with sales of $300,000. The largest market is the U.S.A. with sales of $43.5 million.

• Other niche markets for B.C. food include Egypt, Iran, Madagascar, Peru, Russia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.

• Agriculture creates jobs for British Columbians in our farming and coastal communities, and throughout the processing and distribution chain.

Production

• B.C. is Canada’s most diverse agricultural province, producing more than 200 different commodities on nearly 20,000 farms.

• At the end of 2010, there were 179 million chickens and turkeys, 520,000 cattle, 79,000 hogs, 44,500 sheep, 5,100 bison and 800 deer on B.C. farms.

• B.C. producers lead Canadian sales in blueberries, cherries, cranberries and raspberries and are second in sales of greenhouse tomatoes, greenhouse peppers, mushrooms and grapes.

• B.C. flower and nursery operators produced 95 million cut flowers and more than 80 million plants in 2010. Tulips are B.C.’s most commonly produced flower. B.C. also produced eight million shrubs.

• 61,300 British Columbians are directly employed in agriculture, aquaculture and food and beverage processing.

• An additional 237,500 British Columbians support their families through employment in wholesaling, food service and grocery retailing.

The report provides a sector by sector breakdown of agriculture in B.C. as well as short profiles on B.C. beverages, blueberries, mushrooms, beef, floriculture and nursery products, and export markets.

The Year in Review is posted at: http://www.al.gov.bc.ca/indcomp/2010YIR.pdf