B.C. farmers, ranchers, seafood and processing workers contributed to a record-setting year in 2018, with annual revenue from businesses in those sectors reaching $15 billion for the first time.
“It was an excellent year for agriculture in British Columbia. The hard work of many has led to record results,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “The people who make up B.C.’s agriculture industry are hard working and dedicated, and their passion for growing, raising, harvesting and producing fresh great-tasting food and beverages is why the industry is reaching new heights.”
The milestone includes increases such as a 4% rise in food processing, 6% in agriculture and 11% in seafood revenues. The number of overall sector employees in B.C. also increased to a 10-year high of 63,400 in 2018, with 2,300 more jobs than the year before.
B.C. consumers and companies continue to be the main buyers of B.C. products, with an estimated $6.4 billion of purchases.
B.C. also set new record in 2018 with exports of $4.5 billion — about 10% higher than in 2017. B.C. producers sent $3.1 billion worth of farm and food products and $1.4 billion worth of seafood to 149 international markets, with the United States, China and Japan as the top importers. B.C. companies also sold an estimated $4 billion worth of products in other Canadian provinces and territories.
The Ministry of Agriculture began a new mandate in 2017 to support B.C. farmers through a three-pronged approach:
- Grow BC, which creates a network of food hubs supporting entrepreneurs and food processors around the province, and has programs to increase production and support new farmers;
- Feed BC, which encourages the use of B.C. products in government-operated institutions and facilities; and
- Buy BC, which is helping more than 200 B.C. companies promote their products in B.C., as well as developing partnerships supporting local foods in retailers.
Stan Vander Waal, president, BC Agriculture Council —
“Congratulations to all my fellow farmers and ranchers for their hard work and innovation that makes British Columbia a great place to live, work and enjoy local products.”
Christina Burridge, executive director, BC Seafood Alliance —
“2018 was a great year for B.C. seafood with strong supply, strong demand and strong export prices — and that’s good news for fishing families and communities up and down the coast. British Columbia has a first-rate reputation for safe, sustainable and healthy products from our ocean, while Buy BC is increasing domestic demand, and the Province’s international trade program is supporting exports.”
Doug Cochrane, board chair, Interior Health —
“Through the Feed BC initiative, Interior Health is working more closely with B.C. vendors to increase B.C.-grown and B.C.-processed foods at our hospitals and care facilities. These fresh, nutritious foods support health and recovery, and this partnership reflects the strong connection between Interior Health and the communities we serve.”
James Donaldson, CEO, BC Food & Beverage —
“This new data really underscores that B.C.’s economy is fuelled by farm, fish and food. The export growth numbers are also exciting, as an increasing number of people around the world are getting to appreciate the amazing products that come from our province.”
Heather O’Hara, executive director, BC Association of Farmers’ Markets —
“This is a great revenue milestone and affirms the growth in consumer demand and support by British Columbians for farm and food products grown and made locally in B.C. The thousands of farm and food vendors who sell direct to consumers at over 145 B.C. farmers’ markets across the province are proud of their contribution to reach this milestone in the B.C. agriculture sector.”
2018 statistical snapshots: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/statistics/industry-and-sector-profiles
Buy BC – a program supporting local products in B.C.: https://buybc.gov.bc.ca/
Every Chef Needs a Farmer – an annual event of chefs, farmers, entrepreneurs and food businesses to promote local ingredients in restaurants: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/every-chef-needs-a-farmer
A backgrounder follows.