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British Columbia Top of the Class On Healthy Food and Diets and Environmental Sustainability On Food Report Card

Ottawa, May 18, 2017—British Columbia is among the top performers on The Conference Board of Canada’s first provincial food report card. Canada’s Food Report Card: Provincial Performance assesses the performance of the provinces’ food systems and industry on five categories: industry prosperity, healthy food and diets, food safety, household food security, and environmental sustainability.

“British Columbia leads all provinces on two of the five categories in our food report card, making it one of the top overall performers,” said Jean-Charles Le Vallée, Associate Director, Centre for Food, The Conference Board of Canada. “However, the province receives less than stellar grades on two categories, suggesting a need for improvement. In particular, B.C. is the worst-ranked province on industry prosperity.”


  • British Columbia receives the best marks on two categories: healthy food and diets and environmental sustainability. It is the lowest ranked province on industry prosperity with a “D” in this category.
  • The province performs well on the prevalence of chronic diet-related health conditions, waste diversion and air, water and soil quality but places near the bottom on farming revenues and food manufacturing.
  • Saskatchewan is the best performing province with “A” grades on four of the five categories.

B.C. a Top Performer for Healthy Food and Diet

The province is at the head of the class on the healthy food and diets category, with top marks on 13 out of the 31 metrics. B.C.’s performance is strongest on the metrics assessing chronic diet-related health conditions, with lower rates than their peers in type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and gastrointestinal diseases. However, British Columbians, like most Canadians, consume more sodium than they need, and do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. B.C. experiences some of the lowest intake levels of fruits and vegetables, while average daily sodium intake per person is the second highest in Canada. 

B.C. Scores Best on Environmental Sustainability

B.C. also leads on food environmental sustainability, ranking first overall in Canada, just ahead of Saskatchewan. From household waste to soil health, B.C. receives either “A” or “B” grades on all but two of the 17 metrics in this category. British Columbia performs exceptionally well on household efforts to divert organic food waste and receives top marks for particulate matter emissions from agricultural operations. However, with regards to environmental farm planning, the province receives the lowest grade among provincial peers, with less than a quarter of its farms reporting actively following an environmental plan.

Mixed Grades on Food Safety

British Columbia has mixed grades on food safety and scores an overall “C” on this category. For risk of food-borne illnesses, the province earns “D” grades for incidences of Campylobacter and Salmonella illness, which are the second highest and highest, respectively, in the country. In contrast, B.C. scores an “A” for its lower incidences of E. coli. The province also enjoys low rates of hog and cattle condemnation, but has high rates of chicken and turkey condemnation.

Province Lags on Industry Prosperity

B.C. lags its peer provinces on industry prosperity, receiving the lowest average grade on the 15 industry-related metrics, which follow the supply chain from primary agriculture to food manufacturing, food retail, and food services. B.C. receives lower grades than most peer provinces for industry prosperity, in part due to the category’s greater focus on farming and agriculture. The province receives “D” grades for all but two farm-related metrics. All other provinces fall in the middle with “C” grades. On a positive note, B.C. thrives when it comes to food and beverage retailing, with the highest food and beverage store margins among the provinces.

Solid Performance on Household Food Security

On household food security, B.C. data was only available for 7 of the 16 metrics. The province’s average grade for the available metrics is a “B” grade. As with most Canadian provinces, B.C. receives “A” grades for two household food insecurity metrics: household moderate to severe food insecurity, and indigenous food security. On the other hand, the province performs poorly on food security economic measures. It receives low grades on urban retail food accessibility, and household debt service ratio metrics. British Columbia exhibits one of the highest household debt service ratios in the country, making its residents more vulnerable to food emergencies.

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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