Canada’s red meat industry includes beef and veal, pork, lamb and mutton, goat, rabbit, horse, as well as venison and bison. The red meat industry had annual shipments worth $22.3 billion in 2019.
Canada’s meat processing companies manufacture a wide variety of meat products ranging from fresh and frozen meat to processed, smoked, canned and cooked meats, as well as sausage and deli meats. About 70% of processed meats in Canada, such as sausages or cold cuts, are made with pork.
The wholesomeness and consistent safety of Canadian red meat is well established both in Canada and internationally. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) works with the industry to maintain and enhance this reputation. The CFIA inspects imported products and federally registered establishments that produce processed meats and ready-to-eat products to verify compliance with food safety regulations.
Size of the industry:
By 2019, there were:
- 12.24 million cattle and calves, down 1.4% from the previous year, on 72,860 Canadian farms and ranches. Alberta accounts for approximately 40% of the inventory. Farm cash receipts from the sale of non-dairy cattle and calves in 2019 totaled $8.3 billion, 12.4% of total farm receipts.
- 13.93 million hogs, down 0.2% from the previous year, on 7,640 farms. Farm cash receipts from the sale of hogs in 2019 totaled $4.6 billion, 6.9% of total farm receipts.
- 1,040,200 sheep and lambs down 2% from the previous year, on 9,390 farms. Canadian sheep production is primarily located in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta (72%). Farm cash receipts for sheep and lambs in 2019 totaled $189 million, 0.3% of total farm receipts.
- 230,034 goats on 5,627 farms in Canada were reported in the 2016 Census of Agriculture, a growth of 2% from 2011. In Canada, the goat industry can be segmented into three distinct sectors: chevon (meat), dairy (milk) and fibre (mohair and cashmere).
- 119,314 bison on 975 farms in Canada according to the 2016 Census of Agriculture. Bison production is primarily concentrated in the West, with 80% of the herd located in Saskatchewan and Alberta. Exports of bison meat are primarily to the US, but boneless product is also shipped to numerous countries in Europe, most notably France, Switzerland and Germany.
- 37,343 head of Canadian farm raised cervids (deer and elk) on about 600 farms were reported in the 2016 Census of Agriculture, a decrease of 28% from 2011. Elk are primarily farmed in Western Canada and red deer in the Eastern provinces. Fallow deer, white-tailed deer and other cervid species are found throughout Canada.
- Canada’s beef and veal exports increased by 10% from 2018 to 438,641 tonnes in 2019, valued at $3.2 billion. Exports to the United States were up by 7% in 2019, compared to 2018. Exports to Asia were mixed; Japan and China continued to import more beef and veal from Canada, increasing 54% and 17% respectively, from 2018, while exports to Hong Kong decreased by 18%. Exports to Mexico increased by 8% from 2018. The United States is the major export market for Canadian beef, accounting for approximately 72% of exports.
- In 2019, 722,872 head of cattle were exported to the United States for breeding, feeding and processing with slaughter cattle exports making up the largest proportion of trade (72%). In 2019, feeder cattle exports to the US represented 26% of the live exports.
- In 2019, 21.7 million hogs went to market in Canadian plants, an increase of 1.3% over 2018. In addition, 831 thousand head went to processing facilities in the United States and 4.1 million isoweans and feeder hogs went for feeding and finishing on United States farms. Live hog exports to all countries decreased by 3% over 2019 to 5.1 million head.
- Pork exports increased in 2019 to 1,262,326 tonnes; up by 0.02% from 2018. Exports of pork and pork products to all countries were $4.2 billion in 2019. Sales to the United States decreased 8% year-over-year to 319,845 tonnes, while shipments to Japan decreased 1% to 261,945 tonnes. Exports to China were down 10% to 255,507 tonnes, due to the Chinese suspension of Canadian pork and beef during the second half of 2019.
- Processed pork exports totaled 80,785 tonnes in 2019 with the United States being the dominant purchaser (55%).
In addition to red meat exports, Canada can provide halal-certified, kosher and organic meat and meat products.
...want more information?
For more detailed information, contact:
Red meat section - Animal industry division
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
1341 Baseline Road, Tower 5, 4th floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0C5
Web site: agriculture.canada.ca/red-meat