Agriculture, food sectors continue to grow amid pandemic challenges

CANADA, February 11 – Resiliency through the COVID-19 pandemic has become the hallmark of B.C.’s farmers, producers and processors.

The results are showing it, with 2020 revenues crossing $16 billion for the first time.

The combined revenues of $16.1 billion in 2020 were 3.3% higher than the previous record of $15.6 billion in 2019. This led to 500 new jobs, increasing the total number of employees in farming, fishing and food production in B.C. to 68,200 in 2020.

“I am so proud of our farmers and producers who, against many odds, delivered record revenues in 2020,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. “Our government has and will continue to support our farmers, fishers and food and beverage processors with programs that increase innovation, build consumer and institutional demand for B.C. products, and provide help in the face of the pandemic, weather-related events or market downturn. Their resiliency and ability to adapt their businesses are a testament to how strong this sector is, creating new jobs and opportunities, while putting food on the table for British Columbians.”

The record numbers for 2020 include agriculture revenue exceeding $4 billion, seafood accounting for almost $1 billion and sales in processed food and beverages topping $11.1 billion.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic impacted some food and beverage processors negatively, it’s heartening to see that overall, the industry continued to grow during a challenging year,” said James Donaldson, CEO, BC Food and Beverage. “This growth really speaks to the adaptability and innovation that our industry is known for, and I am glad to see it continue through such a difficult time for so many.”

The Province is committed to strengthening B.C.’s food system through the three economic pillars of Grow BC, Feed BC and Buy BC. This commitment includes helping more people get into farming, expanding local food production through the BC Food Hub Network, moving more locally grown and processed foods into hospitals and other public institutions, and making it easier for consumers to identify made-in-B.C. products.

Quick Facts:

  • B.C. produces more than 200 primary agriculture products and about 100 fish, shellfish and marine plant species.
  • The top revenue earners in 2020 came from different primary and processed sectors.
    • Primary sector revenues came from:
      • crops – $2.3 billion (mainly grains, oilseeds, fruits, floriculture, nursery); and
      • livestock and poultry – $1.7 billion;
    • Food and beverage processed products came from:
      • breweries, wineries and soft drinks, and ice – $2.3 billion;
      • dairy products – $1.8 billion (mainly creamery butter, yogurt, processed milk, ice cream, cheese and whey products); and
      • meat and meat products – $1.7 billion.
  • B.C. exported $4.8 billion worth of agricultural, seafood and food and beverage products to 151 international markets in 2020.
  • B.C.’s food and beverage sector is the second largest in the province after forestry (wood and paper).

Learn More:

For “snapshots” of the farm, seafood and food and beverage-processing sectors, as well as more detailed statistics, visit B.C.’s agriculture and seafood statistics publications online:

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