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Atlantic Provinces Are at the Back of the Class On Food Performance

Ottawa, May 18, 2017—The Atlantic provinces trail behind their provincial counterparts on The Conference Board of Canada’s first provincial food report card assessing the performance of their food systems and food sectors. Canada’s Food Report Card: Provincial Performance presents data and analysis on five categories: industry prosperity, healthy food and diets, food safety, household food security, and environmental sustainability.

“While most provinces perform relatively well on our food report card, all four Atlantic provinces receive at least one “D” grade for their food performance and place towards the bottom,” said Jean-Charles Le Vallée, Associate Director, Centre for Food, The Conference Board of Canada. “Some of the key challenges include persistently high rates of obesity and other health concerns in Newfoundland and Labrador, and child food insecurity in Prince Edward Island.”


  • Newfoundland and Labrador receives “D”s on three of the five categories in the food report card and trails all other provinces on healthy food and diets.
  • Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and P.E.I. all receive “D” grades on food safety due to a high prevalence of food-borne illness.
  • P.E.I. lags most of its provincial peers on food security.
  • Saskatchewan is the best performing province with “A” grades on four of the five categories.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador has the weakest food performance among all the provinces, receiving “D”s on three of the five categories in the report card. The province is the only one to receive an overall “D” grade on the healthy food and diets category. Newfoundland and Labrador has among the highest rates of child and adult obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension and gastrointestinal diseases in Canada, and as a result gets “D” grades in all eight of the diet-related health condition metrics.

Newfoundland and Labrador receives two more “D” grades for its performance on industry prosperity and environmental sustainability. The province is the second-weakest performer among the provinces on industry prosperity, scoring poorly on farm area, size, net capital stock, and food and beverage store margins. On environmental sustainability, households in Newfoundland and Labrador buy more groceries than they need by an average of 33 per cent, and tend to throw out more food than households in many other provinces.

The province is a “B” performer on food safety and manages to get an “A” grade on household food security. Newfoundland and Labrador scores well on moderate to severe food insecurity, accessibility, and Indigenous food security.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia earns two “D”s, two “C”s, and one “B”. The province gets its best grade on the healthy food and diets category, supported by its relatively low sodium, carbohydrate, and added sugar intake. Nova Scotia also does well in both youth and adult obesity.

Nova Scotia is a “C” performer on both household food security and environmental sustainability. The province has one of the lowest rates of child food insecurity, but falls behind other provinces on hunger and weight loss due to lack of food, and moderate to severe household food insecurity. In terms of environmental sustainability, close to half the households in the province often do not consume food by the best before date leading to high levels of food waste.

Nova Scotia places near the bottom on farm area and size, capital stock in farming, food manufacturing sales, and food manufacturing exports, giving it an overall “D” grade on industry prosperity. The province receives a second “D” grade on food safety, stemming from high incidences of food-borne illness and animal condemnation.

Prince Edward Island

With “B” grades in three out of five categories, Prince Edward Island is the best performing Atlantic province. Leading all provinces in per capita food manufacturing sales and food manufacturing growth, P.E.I. earns a “B” grade on industry prosperity. The province also receives “B” grades on the healthy food and diets, and environmental sustainability categories.

P.E.I.’s performance on household food security lags most of its provincial peers, and receives an overall “C” on this category. Particularly concerning is P.E.I.’s performance on child food security. The province places last on three metrics related to food security: child food insecurity, children who were hungry but could not afford more food, and parents who could not feed children balanced meals.

Prince Edward Island receives a “D” grade and is the bottom-ranked province on food safety. The province has the highest rates of reported food-borne illness incidences, such as Listeria and Salmonella, among the provinces.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick receives two “B”s, two “C”s, and a “D” on the five categories of the food report card. The province is the second-weakest performer on healthy food and diets but still manages to earn an overall “B” on this category. New Brunswick gets its other “B” grade on household food security, performing relatively well on metrics related to food security among children and adults.

The province receives “C” grades on industry prosperity and environmental sustainability. New Brunswick has one of the highest levels of household food waste among the provinces. Over 40 per cent of households in New Brunswick throw out the equivalent of one or more grocery bags of food each week. Furthermore, just 5 per cent of households in the province properly divert their waste toward reuse, recycle, and composting.

Similar to Nova Scotia and P.E.I., New Brunswick performs poorly on food safety and receives a “D” grade due to a high prevalence of food-borne illness.

In all, 63 food performance metrics were used to evaluate the overall food performance of the provinces. Definitions for the indicators and the full report are available from our e-Library.

Canada’s Food Report Card: Provincial Performance was prepared for The Conference Board of Canada’s Canadian Food Observatory (CFO). The Observatory monitors progress on improving food performance, spurs the required changes, and encourages action to make the Canadian Food Strategy a reality.

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