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July 14, 2021

Supporting sustainable beef sector growth

Alberta’s government and the beef sector are partnering to ensure Canada’s beef industry continues to grow sustainably and remains competitive. 

Alberta is a key beef supplier to local and international markets and improving our competitiveness is critical to supporting the Alberta Beef and Canada Beef brands. Alberta’s government is partnering with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Alberta Beef Producers and Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association to undertake a competitiveness study that will provide important insights and data for this essential industry.

“Collaborating with industry is vital to growing and advancing our agriculture sector in Alberta. This partnership demonstrates our shared commitment to grow Alberta’s food and processing sector. We know that agriculture will play a big part in Alberta’s economic recovery and growth.”

Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

With government support, this study will help the beef industry identify challenges and opportunities in their supply chain, including:

  • Promoting transparency in cattle and wholesale beef markets.
  • Supporting processor resiliency and plant reinvestment strategies.
  • Expanding harvest capacity for small to medium-sized processors and identifying the supports required for this growth.
  • Planning for surge capacity when events like the COVID-19 pandemic put stress on the food supply chain.

Alberta has the potential to increase capacity and the study will help determine where additional investments could be made to find efficiencies and achieve an optimal processing level. The study can also look at other measures to increase competitiveness, like the possibility of legislating price reporting, similar to the United States, to facilitate open, transparent price disclosure and provide all producers and processors with comparable levels of market information.

“Beef production in Canada is one of the best tools we have to reach our shared conservation and climate change goals while providing good-paying jobs for Canadian families. The Canadian beef industry has a unique ability to deliver significant environmental services, including carbon storage and sequestration, wildlife habitat preservation and flood resiliency.”

Bob Lowe, president, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association

“We are eager to see what insights this study provides. The prior Alberta beef industry study established that the industry is competitive and remains capable of maintaining competitiveness into the future. There are, however, factors and trends that have the potential to decrease competitiveness. In order to grow our entire industry, our value chain has to be profitable and sustainable. In Alberta, value-added is a key component to our supply chain success so we look forward to how this study can shed some light on how to advance that segment.”

Greg Schmidt, chair, Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association

“For the more than 18,000 beef cattle producers who are stewards of the industry in this province, this industry is both progressive and historic, highly technical, yet grounded in the practical. Alberta Beef Producers is dedicated to maintaining a truly sustainable, competitive beef industry. This study supports our strategy to enhance the competitiveness of Alberta’s beef industry through research and innovation, strengthening the sustainability and competitiveness of the industry.”

Melanie Wowk, chair, Alberta Beef Producers

Quick facts

  • The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association represents Canada’s 60,000 beef farmers and ranchers.
  • The Canadian beef industry contributes $21.8 billion to GDP while supporting 348,000 full-time equivalent jobs.
  • More than three-quarters of Canadian beef processing happens in Western Canada, with the vast majority concentrated in Alberta.
  • More than 70 per cent of the cattle fed in Canada are fed in Alberta.
  • Based on sales and Statistics Canada industry multipliers, the Alberta beef industry generates approximately $18 billion in total economic activity and creates more than 57,000 direct and indirect jobs on farms and at suppliers across Canada.
  • In 2020, Alberta beef production was an estimated 852,000 tonnes.
  • Sixty-eight per cent of beef produced in Alberta was consumed in Canada.
  • More than 14 per cent, or 122,720 tonnes of beef, was consumed within the province and a further 53.6 per cent was consumed in other Canadian provinces.
  • Alberta exported 24.7 per cent of beef produced in 2020 to the United States and 7.3 per cent of production was exported to other global trading partners.

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