PRIMARY AND VALUE-ADDED EXPORTS
Alberta produces and exports a significant amount of high-quality primary and processed agriculture products. The province’s crop sector is highly diversified including wheat, oats, barley, canola, pulses and more. In 2022, agricultural exports totalled over $16.1 billion — with $7.3 billion in primary agricultural products and $8.8 billion in value-added products.
As Canada’s leading beef-producing province, Alberta is also a significant exporter of beef and live cattle.
Alberta’s agricultural sector is foundational to the province’s economy — contributing $10.2 billion in GDP in 2022 and employing 69,000 Albertans. The province offers high-quality primary products and is the third largest exporter of agri-food products in Canada.
ALBERTA’S SHARE OF PRODUCTION FOR SELECTED CROPS
Firms operating in Alberta have preferred market access to 49 countries representing approximately 1.5 billion consumers with a combined GDP of $49.3 trillion USD. The province also boasts a reliable and efficient transportation system.
|Canada is the World’s||Alberta Produces (2022)||Alberta Exports|
|#1 exporter of canola seed||29.9% of Canada’s canola (5.6 million tonnes)||$1.94 billion|
|#3 exporter of wheat after Russia and the United States||33.0% of Canada’s wheat (11.3 million tonnes)||$3.12 billion|
|#1 exporter of dry peas||32.1% of Canada’s pulses (peas, beans, faba beans, chick peas and lentils at 2.0 million tonnes)||$386.29 million|
|#5 exporter of barley||53.9% of Canada’s barley (5.4 million Tonnes)||$407.34 million|
A GROWING FOOD PROCESSING INDUSTRY
The sub-sector increased by 6.71% CAGR from 2011 to 2020 and was Alberta’s largest manufacturing sector with $15.5 billion in sales in 2020.
Alberta Primary & Value-Added Agriculture Exports
Alberta’s Top Agri-Food Markets
ALBERTA FOOD PROCESSORS
Alberta’s food processors are active in meat products; grain and oilseed milling; snack foods; functional foods and natural health products; beverages; and more.
With access to competitively priced industrial facilities, a talented workforce, and connectivity, Alberta is ideal for food processing investment.
Alberta’s relatively warm climate, consistent sunlight, low-cost natural gas, availability of water and reasonably priced land makes it an ideal location for greenhouses.
As of 2019, there were 195 greenhouses in Alberta primarily concentrated in Red Deer (22%), Edmonton (20%) and Medicine Hat (18%).
The present size of Alberta’s greenhouse crops industry is estimated to be 404 acres, 164 hectares, 17.62 million square feet, or 1.64 million square metres.
NATURAL GAS RATES FOR ALBERTA FARMS
A ROBUST RESEARCH AND INNOVATION NETWORK
Alberta has over 22 research and innovation facilities specializing in crops and cereals, poultry and swine research, agronomy, biomaterials, and food safety. The federal and provincial governments both offer tax incentives to conduct research and development.
The Food Processing Development Centre (FPDC) in Leduc features the Agrivalue Processing Business Incubator.
The sector is also supported by academic institutions that conduct research and offer programs in agriculture and agribusiness.
SUPPORTED BY AGRI-TECH
Farmers and ranchers collaborate with Alberta’s tech ecosystem to develop and implement innovative technologies to produce higher yields, while maintaining quality and sustainability. Olds College’s agricultural technology programs are developing the skills for Albertans to lead this movement.
It’s estimated that Alberta’s agribusinesses will spend $684 million on digital transformation by 2024.
Alberta’s bio-industrial sector is moving the province forward in the green economy with advancements in bio-based fuels, energy, materials and natural health products.
Ranchers are also working to lower the environmental footprint of their cattle herds.
Areas of Focus
Pulses (peas, beans, faba beans, chickpeas and lentils)
The province’s arable lands, abundance of sunshine and extensive irrigation network makes it an ideal place to produce primary agricultural products.
Canola and oilseed milling
Meat and specialty meat manufacturing
Snack foods and functional foods
Natural health products and beverages
Prepared animal feeds
Alberta’s food processing sector has seen rapid growth. In 2020, it was the province’s largest manufacturing sector with $15.5 billion in food manufacturing sales.
Bio-fuels and energy
Natural health products
Alberta is home to several innovation centres that supports the development of new bio-based products.
IoT-based sensor networks
Satellite photography and sensors
Computer vision and spectral analytics
Alberta’s innovators collaborate with farmers to increase yields, find efficiencies and promote sustainability through increased connectivity and data.
ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND GOVERNANCE
Alberta is investing millions into growing sustainable food while offsetting 2.5 million tonnes of emissions from the agriculture and agri-food sectors.
Emissions Reduction Alberta
Investing $33 million in tech innovations which will lead to a cumulative GHG reduction of up to 2.7 million tonnes of CO2e by 2030.
Canadian beef has one of the lowest GHG footprints, nearly 50% lower than the global average.
Alberta is home to a highly educated workforce and several post-secondary institutions that specialize in agriculture, science and engineering.
Highly Educated Workforce
Alberta has one of the most educated workforces with 55% of Albertans aged 25 to 64 having completed a post-secondary program.
Alberta’s post-secondary institutions had 3,525 science and technology; 4,225 engineering and engineering tech; and 1,525 math and computer science graduates in 2020.
The agricultural and agri-food sector employs over 69,800 Albertans.
Post-secondary institutions across the province offer innovative agriculture and agribusiness-related programs.
Alberta boasts a well-connected transportation system and approximately 67.9% of the irrigated farmland in Canada.
Alberta has the largest irrigated area in Canada with nearly 680,000 hectares of irrigated land.
Investing In Irrigation
An $815-million investment will modernize irrigation infrastructure and increase water storage capacity, creating up to 6,800 direct and indirect permanent jobs and up to 1,280 construction jobs.
Alberta StoriesSee All Alberta Stories
Food Processing Development Centre (FPDC)
Supports the growth and commercialization of food, beverage and ingredient companies.Learn more
Agrivalue Processing Business Incubator (APBI)
A multi-tenant facility that provides the infrastructure and services to support the establishment and growth of new agri-food companies.Learn more
Bio Processing Development Centre (BPIC)
Product development and scale-up support for bio-based materials, chemicals and natural health products companies. It is the only government centre with a natural and non-prescription health products (NNHP) licence.Learn more
Run by Innotech Alberta, this facility develops, optimizes and scales biological processes to assist customers with the commercialization of novel technologies.Learn more
Lacombe Research and Development Centre
Houses provincial researchers focused on crop disease resistance and integrated management strategies. The Centre’s satellite location, the Beaverlodge Research Farm, focuses on canola breeding, sustainable farming and the pathology of honeybees.Learn more
The Lethbridge Research Centre (RDC)
Leading researcher on beef cattle production systems, crop production and sustainable production systems under dryland and irrigated conditions associated with farming in semi-arid climates.Learn more
University of Alberta’s Faculty of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Science
Conducts research in plant biosystems including plant breeding and genetics, crop biotechnology, crop protection, plant physiology, agronomy and rangeland ecology and management.Learn more
University of Lethbridge’s School of Agricultural Biotechnology
Conducts research in agricultural economics, plant breeding, environmental microbiology, ecosystems and water management, nutrition, functional food, and nutraceutical development, as well as health and theory.Learn more
Olds College’s Centre for Innovation’s Crops Division
Located on 3,600 acres of prime farmland in central Alberta, the Centre for Innovation’s Crops division has dedicated fields for applied research. Crops research – as small plot trials or full field investigations – is a key part of their research portfolio.Learn more
Lakeland College’s Agricultural Sciences Program
Hands-on program focusing on farm management and applied research.Learn more
Protein Industries Canada (PIC)
Works with industry partners to create co-investment projects that accelerate innovation and the competitiveness of Canada’s plant protein sector.Learn more
Business Scale-Up and Productivity (BSP)
Open to incorporated high-growth businesses that have been operating in the Prairie Provinces for a minimum of two years.Learn more
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Supports the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector through initiatives that promote innovation and competitiveness.Learn more
Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED)
Uses tax incentives to encourage businesses to conduct research and development in Canada.Learn more
Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN)
Brings together technology and agri-food companies to create new solutions that improve competitiveness, drive growth and creates jobs.Learn more
Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF)
Supports transformative investments that develop innovation ecosystems in key sectors.Learn more