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Positive Outlook for Canadian Meat Industry

22 August 2013

The meat, beef and poultry rocessing industry, a large portion of Canada's food processing sector in terms of both exports and employment, has seen declines in recent years due to decreased per capita meat consumption.

However, a rebounding economy and improved consumer sentiment toward industry products is expected to boost revenue over the next five years, according to industry research firm IBISWorld.

The report shows that the meat, beef and poultry processing industry is a powerhouse behind Canada's food processing sector, representing about 10 per cent of total agri-food exports and employing over 66,500 people.

In spite of this role, the industry has struggled during the past five years due to receding per capita meat consumption.

“Disease outbreaks, a growing awareness of the health risks associated with red meat consumption and limited disposable income in light of the recession, have threatened Canadian appetites for steaks and fresh meats,” said IBISWorld industry analyst Agiimaa Kruchkin.

“As consumers tightened their purse strings due to the financial crisis, they also scaled back the quality and quantity of meat products purchased.”

These consumer cutbacks were further exacerbated by disease outbreaks, including the 2009 swine flu pandemic, which slashed downstream demand from wholesale trade by a remarkable 15 per cent.

Consequently, industry revenue has dropped at an average annual rate of 0.2 per cent to $24.0 billion in the five years to 2013.

The associated risks of obesity, heart disease and certain cancers has played a major role in curbing consumption of red meats, such as pork and beef, in the five years to 2013.

Many Canadians have switched to healthier sources of protein such as fish, seafood, soy meats, beans and poultry.

This trend, in turn, has maintained demand for industry products, such as chicken, duck and turkey, to an extent, resulting in only a marginal annual drop in the consumption of poultry products.

Furthermore, because meat still is a staple in the Canadian diet, consumers' rebounding disposable incomes will bolster revenue 0.6 per cent in 2013.

The meat, beef and poultry processing industry has a medium concentration of ownership.

The three largest companies in this industry are Cargill, JBS Food Canada Inc., and Maple Leaf Foods.

Acquisitions by larger industry operators have increased concentration over the past five years, and this trend is projected to continue due to profitability pressures in many major firms, as key players concentrate on core business development to achieve optimal economies of scale.

“As the economy is anticipated to rebound and the consumer sentiment is expected to improve, meat processing revenue is forecast to beef up,” said Kruchkin.

“Although downstream demand is expected to recover during the next five years, potential disease outbreaks and unfavourable weather conditions may cause volatility on a year-to-year basis.”

To combat such fluctuations, industry operators will increasingly focus on improving efficiencies via technological advancements, while maintaining profit margins via acquisition-based growth.


August 2013

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