Canada is one of the largest exporters of red meat and livestock in the world, exporting around 45 per cent of Canadian beef and cattle production each year.
Canada produces approximately 1.3 million tonnes of beef annually. In 2016, Canada’s beef industry exported $2.3 billion (359,600 tonnes) of beef, representing 39 per cent of domestic slaughter. This is a new record high in beef export value. Canada exported 622,490 tonnes of beef and cattle valued at $3.6 billion in 2016, representing 47 per cent of beef production (including live slaughter cattle exported).
The Canadian beef industry ships to 56 countries but is reliant on the U.S. for 75 per cent of all beef exports. The next largest export markets are mainland China & Hong Kong (8%), Japan (6%), Mexico (4%) and South Korea 2%, accounting for 96 per cent of total export volumes. All other markets together represent the remaining 4 per cent of Canadian beef exports.
Canada’s beef consumption averaged around 880,000 tonnes in 2015 and 2016. Canadian consumers purchase about 18 kilograms (retail weight) of beef per person per year.
Canadian beef industry fast facts
In 2017 the cattle industry generated $8.9 billion in farm cash receipts. Over the period 2013-17, cattle and calves have been the largest revenue maker for farms. The 2016 Ag Census identified 60,000 farms in Canada that derive more than half their income from beef production, with 84,740 operators.
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Industry contribution to economy
The Canadian beef industry represents the second largest single source of farm cash receipts, with cash receipts from cattle and calves totaling $8.9 billion annually over the last five years (2013-17 average), representing 15% of total farm cash receipts, contributing $17 billion to GDP annually, and generating an estimated 228,000 jobs in Canada, with every job in the sector yielding another 3.56 jobs elsewhere in the economy. For every $1 of income received by workers and farm owners, another $2.08 is created elsewhere. Canada’s meat industry is the largest component of the food processing sector, with annual sales surpassing $28 billion including exports exceeding $6 billion and providing direct employment for 66,000 people.