TORONTO, Ont.–Canada could move from being one of the top 20 net food exporting countries in the world to being one of the top five within the next few years-while addressing the legitimate needs of Canadians for safe, healthy and affordable food. The Canadian Food Strategy, unveiled by The Conference Board of Canada at the 3rd Canadian Food Summit 2014, is a blueprint for change in the food sector.
“The food sector already contributes more than 8% of Canada’s gross domestic product and is directly responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs. But it can become even more successful if our producers capture a larger share of the growing international food market, said Michael Bloom, Vice-President, Industry and Business Strategy. “Taken as a whole, the food sector has the potential to be among the foremost export industries for Canada.”
The second day of the 3rd Canadian Food Summit: From Strategy to Action began with a session called Developing a Food Export and Trade Action Plan to Grow Canada’s Food Sector.
The Canadian Food Strategy outlines several action items that could make Canada a food-exporting superpower, including:
-Expand presence in existing and emerging markets, including new markets.
-Link aid and trade to address the challenge of global food security.
-Negotiate multilateral and bilateral free trade agreements to improve exporters’ access to international markets.
-Develop high-quality national, provincial, and regional food brands and product specializations for wide sale internationally.
-Build a Canada Brand to reinforce food brands and products using positive images of Canada’s natural environment and culture and our reputation for product quality and safety.
The Canadian Food Strategy was developed from a conviction that changing our nation’s food system is both an opportunity and an imperative, said the Conference Board.
Each of the five elements of the Canadian Food Strategy — industry prosperity, healthy food, food safety, household food security, and environmental sustainability — are closely interrelated.
For example, increasing Canada’s production of food and export levels must be done while minimizing negative impacts on the environment. And improvements in diet and the success of food-related population health efforts will reduce the incidence of chronic disease, which will, in turn, reduce pressure on the health care system.
The Strategy sets out the eight goals and more than 60 desired outcomes, and provides 110 action strategies that can help to achieve them.
To encourage implementation efforts and to track progress, the Conference Board’s Centre for Food in Canada said it intends to continue its work on promoting the Canadian Food Strategy through three initiatives:
-establish the Canadian Food Observatory to monitor progress in the food sector and measure progress in achieving the goals of the Strategy.
-produce an Annual Report Card: Food in Canada— Performance and Potential summarizing the progress made in the previous year, using metrics established by the Observatory.
-undertake further research on new and emerging issues.