U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney will lead a trade mission to Canada Sept. 3-6, accompanied by representatives from 41 U.S. agribusinesses and associations looking to expand sales to the United States’ top agricultural export market.
“With the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) poised for passage, this is a great time for U.S. agricultural exporters to be shoring up ties with our neighbors to the north,” McKinney said. “Our two nations already enjoy the world’s largest bilateral agricultural trade relationship, with almost $120 million worth of food and farm products crossing the border every day. The USMCA will make this good relationship even better, and we’re looking forward to meeting with current and potential customers in Toronto and Montreal to explore new and expanded business opportunities.”
As the number one export destination for U.S. farm and food products, Canada is an indispensable market and a valuable proving ground for companies looking to enter or expand in the global marketplace. With 90% of Canadians living within 100 miles of the United States, consumers there closely follow U.S. food trends and often share tastes and preferences with their U.S. counterparts.
Last year, the United States was the top supplier of agricultural products to Canada, with a 58% share of the country’s agricultural import market. More than 75% of U.S. exports were high-value, consumer-oriented products, including prepared foods, fresh vegetables and fruits, snack foods and non-alcoholic beverages.
Canada is the only market where U.S. agricultural exports have consistently exceeded $20 billion every year since 2010, and also represents an opportunity for further growth. Of the 48 major export commodity groups tracked through USDA’s Global Agricultural Trade System, Canada is the number one export market for 19, and either the second- or third-largest market for 15 others.
“A well-developed food safety regulatory structure, and broad market access secured under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and retained in the signed, but not yet in force, U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement will continue to provide U.S. exporters an excellent opportunity for sales growth in Canada,” according to a recent report from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) office.
While healthier foods are in demand across generations, health conscious senior citizens have become the fastest-growing age group in Canada, and U.S. exporters may look to tailor their product sizing and packaging accordingly, to meet the demands of this growing population.
Immigration is also a key factor in Canada, where 21.5% of the population was born abroad according to Statistics Canada’s 2016 Census. “Canada’s large immigrant base opens the door for a broader variety of foods to be sold as traditional grocers look to expand the scope of their offerings to meet the demand of an increasingly diverse clientele,” FAS noted.
In addition to representatives from many companies and organizations, McKinney will be joined by Maine Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Amanda Beal, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring, and officials from the Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin departments of agriculture.
Those companies and organizations participating include the Elmhurst Milked Direct LLC of New York, Food Export Assn. of the Midwest USDA based in Chicago, Ill., US Grains Council, USA Rice Federation, U.S. Soybean Export Council and the Western United States Agricultural Trade Assn., out of Vancouver, Wash.