The service sector of B.C.’s food and beverage economy has been hit hard by the economic wallop of the COVID-19 pandemic, with numerous restaurants shutting down and delays on those that were planning to open.
However, there is some hope when it comes to the province’s food and beverage industries.
According to data released by B.C.’s Agriculture Ministry today (September 16) revealed that processors in this field, which include 2,995 establishments and are key to the provincial food system and economy, reported record sales in 2019. In fact, the food and beverage processing industry is the second largest processing sector in B.C. when it comes to sales.
Sales shot up $700 million to hit a record high of $10.5 billion in 2019—a 7.1 percent increase over 2018.
Notables areas included a $137-million rise in winery sales, a $295-million increase in dairy sales, and a $300-million surge in meat and poultry sales.
In addition, B.C. set a record for exports in 2019, with $4.7 billion in sales of agricultural, seafood, and food and beverage products to 152 international markets.
The top five sales in 2019 were $1.9 billion in beverages (including soft drinks, wineries, and breweries); $1.9 billion in meat and poultry products; $1.7 billion in other food processing products (such as snack foods, coffees and teas, flavouring syrups, concentrates, seasonings, and dressings); $1.6 billion in dairy products; and $900 million in bakery and tortilla products.
Food and beverage processing represented 61 percent of B.C.’s total agriculture, seafood, and food and beverage processing industry GDP in 2019, with contributions of $3.3 billion. In 2019 B.C. ranked third among Canadian provinces in beverage processing sales and fourth in food processing sales.
Agriculture Minister Lana Popham opined in a news release that these sales “set the foundation for a strong economic recovery” from the pandemic, and B.C. Food and Beverage CEO James Donaldson said that revenue growth in this sector has been trending for several years.
In other B.C. food industry news, the provincial government is partnering with the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society, and will provide $500,000 to develop a new food hub in Salmon Arm to help Okanagan businesses access shared food and beverage processing space and equipment in order to increase their sales.
This new hub is slated to open in 2021, and will join three hubs operating in Vancouver, Surrey, and Port Alberni that are a part of the B.C. Food Hub Network. A fourth hub is preparing to open soon in Quesnel.