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Research Reports


Canada’s Food Report Card 2016: Provincial Performance report cover Canada’s Food Report Card 2016: Provincial Performance

This inaugural provincial food report card compares 63 food performance metrics across Canada’s 10  provinces. It organizes these metrics around the Canadian Food Strategy’s five elements: industry prosperity, healthy food and diets, food safety, household food security, and environmental sustainability.


Canadian Beverage Association Balance Calories Initiative report cover Canadian Beverage Association Balance Calories Initiative: Baseline Report

The Canadian Beverage Association has set a goal to reduce the daily per capita calories consumed through liquid refreshment beverages (LRBs)—that is, all non-alcoholic refreshment beverages except dairy products and hot coffee and tea—by 20 per cent between 2015 and 2025. This briefing establishes a baseline for the Balance Calories initiative and shows what additional level of effort will be required to meet the target beyond what can be expected through consumption trends.


Image of 2015 Report Card on Food coverCanada’s Food Report Card 2015: International Comparison

Released at the annual Canadian Food & Drink Summit 2015 in Toronto, the annual Food Report Card assesses Canada’s food and beverage sector performance along the supply chain against 16 leading peer OECD countries.

Identified as key elements in our Canadian Food Strategy, the report card compares 43 food performance metrics. Canada performs well in the areas of food safety, food security, and healthy food and diets, but shows a weaker performance in the areas of industry prosperity and environmental sustainability. View the Report Card to see the grades of each country’s relative food performance by element of the Canadian Food Strategy.

The report card strives to offer clear, reliable evidence of food system and food sector performance that can enhance public and private awareness and commitment to action. To be launched at the upcoming annual Canadian Food & Drink Summit in November, the next report card will evaluate Canada’s domestic food performance across all ten provinces covering the same five key strategic elements. The annual report cards will alternate yearly thereafter between international and domestic comparisons.


Food Safety report cover2014 World Ranking: Food Safety Performance

This report is a comparative study that measures and ranks Canada’s food safety performance against that of 16 peer Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The report identifies and evaluates common elements among global food safety systems. It provides an overall world ranking of food safety performance, illustrated by 10 indicators organized across three food safety risk governance domains: assessment, management, and communication. All countries have very high food safety standards, but Canada and Ireland, in particular, earned excellent grades relative to their peers. However, any subsequent global ranking study should consider the development of survey instruments to gather adequate and comparable national evidence on food safety.

Reforming Dairy Supply Management report coverReforming Dairy Supply Management: The Case for Growth

Supply management is among Canada’s most contentious public policies. The policy is designed to manage the market risk faced by farmers of supply-managed commodities. But it does so by generating higher prices for consumers and closing off growth opportunities in domestic and international markets.

This report highlights the case of dairy supply management. We review the reform literature and offer some ideas for reform paths that create a win-win solution for dairy farmers, consumers, and Canada.

The report’s unique contribution is that it links farm-level financial analysis—micro analysis—to macro policy. This allows us to show how different policy actions play out in terms of farm viability and transition paths for the industry. We clearly demonstrate that it is possible to grow Canada’s dairy sector by reorganizing assets under the most efficient producers. And Canada’s most efficient producers will provide Canadians and the world with low prices and high-quality dairy products.


From Fin to Fork report coverStrengthening Canada’s Commercial Fisheries and Aquaculture: From Fin to Fork

Fish and seafood are valuable sources of nutrients and part of a healthy diet. With the right positioning, Canada’s commercial fisheries and aquaculture sector can realize significant economic and ecological gains from growth opportunities to meet rising—largely foreign—demand. This expanding market represents growth opportunities for Canada’s fisheries and aquaculture sector, primarily through improved value-based processing, increased value of landed wild-caught fish, and augmented aquaculture production and marketing. To protect fish and seafood resources and habitats, greater investments will be needed in sustainability, conservation, rebuilding of depleted fish stocks, and reduction of waste (bycatch and bushing). This report exams the fisheries and aquaculture sector in Canada, assesses the resource supply, and examines current governance policies, practices, and legislation. It concludes with recommendations on how to improve the sector’s economic prosperity and increase its environmental sustainability.

Funding Food report coverFunding Food: Food and Capital Markets in Canada

Canadian food companies invest almost $15 billion in capital every year. And, although farming is often viewed as a small stakeholder enterprise in relationship to its value added, it is actually the most heavily capitalized sub-sector. Funding Food: Food and Capital Markets in Canada explores the different capitalization challenges faced by the primary, processing, and retailing sectors of the industry based on their existing organization, markets, and competitive threats.

The report reveals that the way that food industry assets are funded is of key strategic importance to the sector’s performance, and that capital is part of the solution to addressing the range of competitiveness issues in food. Efficient management attracts capital and the new capital helps to ensure that operations are modern and efficient, and the business model is optimal. This, in turn, enables the firm to generate better returns and be less risky, thereby attracting more capital. Based on the premise that one way that Canada’s food companies can improve their capitalization is through better management, conclusions are offered for the Canadian Food Strategy.

What's to Eat report coverWhat’s to Eat? Improving Food Literacy in Canada

In recent years, there has been a rise in interest in the role of food in health and in how food is grown and processed. Yet, it is unclear whether household attitudes, skills, and knowledge about food—food literacy—have developed along with that interest. This report reveals that there are gaps and deficits in Canadians’ knowledge and skills related to food.

Improving food literacy in Canada will support healthier choices in diet and nutrition and better food skills, leading to improved nutrition and health outcomes. Information and education are crucial, but must be presented using strategies that engender lasting behavioural changes. This report discusses why food literacy matters (in terms of dietary, health, and environmental outcomes); analyzes the current state of food literacy in Canada; highlights current efforts to develop food literacy; and recommends strategies to further improve Canadian household food literacy.

Enough for All report coverEnough for All: Household Food Security in Canada

All Canadians should have access to enough safe and nutritious food to sustain them, keep them healthy and enable them to lead productive lives. However, nearly 2 million people in Canada (about 7.7 per cent of Canadian households) self-report being “food insecure.” Household food insecurity is influenced by a household’s ability to pay for food, physical access to adequate food resources, health requirements for nutritious food, and preferences for culturally appropriate food. This report analyzes the current state of food security in Canada; explores key risk factors associated with food insecurity; highlights current efforts to address food insecurity in Canada; and recommends strategies to alleviate Canada’s household food security challenges.

Cultivating Opportunities report coverCultivating Opportunities: Canada’s Growing Appetite for Local Food

The increasing interest in local food in Canada has been driven by concerns about food quality, health and nutrition, food safety, local economies and farmers, and the environment. Local food systems have a significant economic impact in Canada. Local food can create opportunities for firms throughout the food system—for example, it can bring higher margins for producers and allow businesses to differentiate themselves from their competition. However, local food creates challenges for some businesses, particularly those that deal in large volumes of product and rely on economies of scale to be competitive. Cultivating Opportunities: Canada's Growing Appetite for Local Food evaluates the drivers behind local food; examines the economic impact of local food systems in Canada and the challenges and opportunities local food poses for consumers, governments, and industry; highlights successful local food initiatives throughout the food supply chain; and recommends strategies to optimize local food systems.

Liberalization’s Last Frontier report coverReducing the Risk: Addressing the Environmental Impacts of the Food System

Every Canadian meal has an environmental footprint. Today, there is a growing concern about this environmental footprint and what must be done to improve the sustainability of the food system. Improving this sustainability becomes all the more important considering the pressures it will face to expand production. With global population estimated to climb to over 9 billion by 2050, Canada will be among a handful of food-exporting countries called upon to satisfy rising food demand.

This report examines the major areas of environmental risk relating to Canada’s food system. It describes key steps to improve agri-environmental risk governance in Canada and the ability of the food system to respond to challenges and opportunities in the years ahead. In so doing, the report provides a basis of evidence and analysis to help inform the dialogue around food system sustainability in Canada.

Liberalization’s Last Frontier report coverLiberalization’s Last Frontier: Canada’s Food Trade

The report shows how Canada stands to benefit from lower trade barriers to food and increased food trade. Trading food allows us to get access to a wide variety of food products year-round, at affordable prices, and opens new markets for Canadian food producers. Despite those benefits and the fact that Canada is one of the few countries with a large food trade surplus, we still maintain very high import tariffs on key food products. Those include commodities under supply management, beef and veal meat, wheat, and barley. This is in sharp contrast to the low tariffs found in other similar export oriented countries like Australia, New Zealand, and Chile. Lowering our trade barriers to food, particularly with key emerging markets, is the best way for Canada to capitalize and expand upon its position as a large food exporter.

Fast and Fresh report coverFast and Fresh: A Recipe for Canada’s Food Supply Chains

Perishable food products face unique logistical challenges. Small technological changes, infrastructure investments, or business processes can have large impacts on what food products can viably be shipped. How these changes can impact the viability of food products can be anticipated through logistics cost modelling. Understanding this approach is useful not only for businesses, but for policy-makers and even consumers.

The report explores the economics of and recent developments in Canada’s food supply chains and works through the implications for industry, policy-makers, and consumers. It also makes several recommendations for improving supply chain efficiencies.

Seeds for Success report coverSeeds for Success: Enhancing Canada’s Farming Enterprises

Farming in Canada has deep roots and traditions, but the sector is undergoing significant changes: the old ways of doing things are no longer guarantors of success. The report explores the modern realities of farming business, and how it can be bolstered to achieve even more of the economic and social value that consumers expect.

The report reveals that Canada’s farming sector is increasingly dynamic, presenting new opportunities, as well as risks and challenges. Although farmers have long been skilled at managing the growth of crops and livestock, they must now also be increasingly skilled at managing their businesses. This report considers the farm management issues facing farming today.

Toward Performance Metrics for Canada’s Food System report coverToward Performance Metrics for Canada’s Food System

This report provides examples of practical food performance metrics. Such metrics should spur stakeholders to act, make management decisions, finance investments, build programs, and improve dietary choices. However, to track and assess performance, we first need to set strategic, achievable, actionable, and measurable goals, and that task requires solid data. To that end, the report also examines the numerous knowledge gaps in Canada’s food system. The author reviews various data sources according to the Strategy’s five elements: industry prosperity, healthy food and diets, food safety, household food security, and environmental sustainability. The report also provides examples of performance baselines and ends with steps for implementing performance metrics.

Pathway to Partnership report coverPathway to Partnership? Private Food Standards in Canada

Without the right quality controls, the food industry can be risky business. Demands and expectations are rising, especially for food that is safe. To help manage risks and differentiate products, many food companies have introduced private standards—systems of quality management and assurance—throughout their operations and those of their suppliers. While private standards have become more prevalent in Canada throughout all levels of the food supply system, and represent opportunities for improved food system outcomes, little has been known about where these opportunities exist and the challenges that must be overcome to achieve them. To address this knowledge gap, this report provides a conceptual and empirical foundation to inform future discussions about private standards in Canada and to contribute to the development of the Canadian Food Strategy.


Competing for the Bronze report coverCompeting for the Bronze: Innovation Performance in the Canadian Food Industry

The innovation performance of Canada’s food industry has direct consequences for the health and well-being of Canadians, as well as for the economy and society. The report examines food innovation performance, identifies opportunities for further innovation, and considers the barriers to improvement. It assesses the contribution that food innovation makes to the competitiveness and economic growth of the industry, the extent to which the industry is performing below potential, and the challenges that businesses face when they innovate. Additionally, the report explores how food innovation contributes to broader social and economic objectives, such as the health and safety of food. Several potential solutions, which could improve food businesses’ innovation performance and enhance their domestic and global competitiveness, are also examined.

The Sky's the Limit report coverThe Sky’s the Limit: The Viability of Canada’s Food Economy

The Sky’s the Limit explores the viability of Canada’s food economy. It considers the industry, company, plant, and farm viability that, while achieving commercial success, address the nutritional needs of Canadians. The report draws on a variety of sources, including a thorough review of the relevant literature; data from the Centre for Food in Canada’s proprietary surveys: the Industry Survey and the Household Survey; and the extensive use of other data sources, most notably from Statistics Canada. The report also highlights four examples of innovative and adaptable Canadian food companies whose viability support many jobs, and contribute to the wealth and standard of living of large numbers of Canadians and communities. It concludes with six suggestions for improving the viability of Canada’s food economy.

Forging Stronger Links report coverForging Stronger Links: Traceability and the Canadian Food Supply Chain

In response to the globalization of food markets, changing trade regulations, and greater focus on food safety incidents, calls for better traceability systems and tools grow louder. This has prompted industry, encouraged by government, to speed up investments in traceability. The report analyzes food traceability system issues and examines the costs and benefits of traceability for the different participants in the food supply system. Without a solid grasp of the costs and related benefits of the available traceability options, supply chain stakeholders may not be investing wisely. At the same time, if governments are not fully aware of the costs and benefits for supply chain stakeholders, and for consumers, they risk mandating traceability regulations that are unaffordable or unsustainable. Several potential solutions that could lead to more and better traceability systems, which meet both public and private interest priorities, are also examined.

Improving Health Outcomes report coverImproving Health Outcomes: The Role of Food in Addressing Chronic Diseases

This report examines the relationship between food, health, and chronic diseases—a key consideration for the Canadian Food Strategy. The report considers the food-related risk factors for three highly prevalent chronic diseases—cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. It examines current and historical dietary patterns to assess Canadians’ food-related risks; assesses how well consumers, industry, and governments are managing the key dietary risks; and considers the effectiveness of interventions to encourage healthy eating. The report concludes by proposing seven potential measures that consumers, government, and industry can take to improve dietary risk management to cut the burden of chronic diseases.

Food Safety report coverImproving Food Safety in Canada: Toward a More Risk-Responsive System

Given the importance of food safety and calls to improve Canada’s responsiveness to food safety risks, there is a need for an informed dialogue about how well the current system performs, what could be changed to enhance performance, and which options are appropriate for achieving change. The purpose of this report is to provide a foundation for that dialogue. It examines and assesses the structure and performance of the current food safety system, provides an overview of issues and challenges to enhancing food safety in Canada, and identifies the drivers and constraints that influence industry investment in food safety and consumer behaviour. The report’s final chapter identifies potential solutions and key areas for action to improve food safety in Canada.

All Together Now report coverAll Together Now: Regulation and Food Industry Performance

This report explores the impact of food regulation on food industry performance. It provides a conceptual overview of how food regulations affect food companies’ value creation processes. It then explores ways in which the food regulatory system and the food production system work together to achieve the outcome of a safe, nutritious food supply. The report concludes by exploring options for improving the way regulations and company systems could interact to achieve shared goals.


Valuing Food report coverValuing Food: The Economic Contribution of Canada’s Food Sector

This report examines the economic footprint of Canada’s food economy. It begins by considering the underlying forces shaping food supply and demand. This is followed by an analysis of Canada’s current food economy and an overview of Canada’s engagement in the global food economy. It concludes with a summary of the major findings and their implications.

Key questions that the research is answering include:

  • What are the direct, indirect and induced economic impacts of the food sector?
  • How much does the sector contribute to Canada’s GDP?
  • How many jobs are related to the sector?
  • What are the economic impacts of an investment or expansion in the food sector?
  • What are some major trends that are reshaping food in Canada and around the world?

Governing Food report coverGoverning Food: Policies, Laws, and Regulations for Food in Canada

The report assesses Canada’s current approach to food policies, laws, and regulations (PLRs). It identifies broad areas for reform that could help to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and overall competitiveness of the food sector and achieve the health, trade and environmental goals that are in the best interests of Canada and Canadians. The focus is on efficient and effective interventions to resolve pressing contemporary problems.

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Contact Us

For more information on how you can participate in one of our food related initiatives, or to request a guest invitation to a meeting, contact:

Jean-Charles Le Vallée
Associate Director, Food Horizons Canada
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