Continued Growth in the Alberta Agri-Food Industry
Alberta is the third-largest exporter of primary and processed agricultural and food products (agri-foods) in Canada. The United States continues to be the Alberta agri-food industry’s largest export market, followed by China, Japan, Mexico, and South Korea. In 2017, exports grew 12.3% from the previous year to $11.2 billion, which included gains in both primary commodities and value added products.
Primary commodities made up $5.7 billion in exports, which increased 14% in 2017, and includes products such as wheat, barley, pulses, and canola seed. Value added product exports grew 10.6% in 2017 to $5.6 billion, and included crude canola oil, canola cake and meal, pork, and beef.
Increased Demand for Alberta Agri-Food Industry Exports
The demand for these exports is only expected to increase over the next few decades. By 2050 the global population is predicted to grow from 7.4 billion to 9.7 billion. In addition, the economic growth of China and India is increasing the demand for meat and dairy products, which, in turn, increases the price of grain.
Economic growth is also anticipated in Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa, which will support increased world trade of agricultural products. Demand is expected to shift toward value-added products, which are ready to consume, making way for niche agri-food businesses.
Climatic Challenges of the Agri-Food Industry
Climatic events, such as drought, floods, and cold snaps will continue to affect the global agri-food industry, impacting food availability. The increasing population and economic growth are also increasing demand for water, since groundwater is being depleted faster than it can be replenished in many parts of the world.
In addition to constraints on water, high rates of soil loss making way for erosion and desertification can diminish certain countries’ ability to produce enough food domestically. The Alberta agri-food industry will continue to grow to meet these increasing international demands.
Workforce Development to Support Agri-Food in Alberta
In order to support the growth of this industry in Alberta, access to technological expertise will need to be facilitated. To develop the Alberta workforce, precision agriculture and genomics experts could be hired to increase the efficiency of resource utilization in Alberta’s value added food product plants.
Research partnerships between industry and the universities in the province can also provide mutually beneficial avenues for exploring how the functional properties of foods can fight or prevent diseases. Industrial or chemical engineering university departments could assist the Alberta agri-food industry with developing bio-lubricants, bio-fuels, or even better suited industrial processes to increase quality and quantity of exports. The graduate student researchers engaged in these processes could also become valuable employees in the future, well-suited to continue progressing the agri-food industry into the future.
Keep Track of Alberta Agri-Food Industry in Real Time
With so many opportunities for growth, Alberta will need skilled workers not only to develop the technology and innovate, but also to process the food, run the plants, and service the equipment and technology used daily. In addition to university partnerships, college technology programs and skills development training will be needed to support those who are looking to up-skill and enter the workforce for the first time.
To prepare for this continued growth in the Alberta agri-food industry, there is a tool that can help to monitor the rapidly changing landscape in real time. Regional Labour Demand and Supply Reporting SystemsTM can provide targeted, local data on exactly who is looking for work and what kind of skilled workers the industry is seeking. Reports on the supply and demand of Alberta labour can be automatically generated, providing data quickly, to build the relationships, partnerships, and systems to support this important growing industry.
Increased Exports Supporting Alberta Labour Force
Global economic and population growth will continue to drive exports from the Alberta agri-food industry. By attracting skilled workers to the industry through strategic partnerships, education and research programs, and using real time data to monitor and respond to the situation, Alberta’s exports can continue to increase.
With increased exports, increased opportunities exist for those seeking employment in Alberta. To learn more about elevating opportunities in your Alberta community, download this flowchart now.