Canada's red meat and livestock industry at a glance

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 $31.06 billion in 2023.

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:

On January 1, 2024, there were,

  • 11.1 million cattle and calves, down 2.1% from the previous year, on 70,490 Canadian farms and ranches. Alberta accounts for approximately 40% of the inventory. Farm cash receipts from the sale of cattle and calves in 2023 totaled $14.95 billion, 15.2% of total farm receipts.
  • 13.8 million hogs, down 1.0% from the previous year, on 7,000 farms. Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba account for 81% of the total Canadian hog herd. Farm cash receipts from the sale of hogs in 2023 totaled $5.85 billion, 5.9% of total farm receipts.
  • 828,300 sheep and lambs down 2.2% from the previous year, on 8,487 farms. Canadian sheep production is primarily located in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta (72%). Farm cash receipts for sheep and lambs in 2023 totaled $222 million, 0.2% of total farm receipts.

According to the 2021 Census of Agriculture, there were:

  • 253,278 goats on 4,801 farms in Canada, a growth of 10% from 2016 (230,034 goats). In Canada, the goat industry can be segmented into three distinct sectors: chevon (meat), dairy (milk) and fibre (mohair and cashmere).
  • 149,539 bison on 989 farms in Canada. Bison production is primarily concentrated in the West, with 80% of the herd located in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Exports of bison meat are primarily to the US, but product is also shipped to numerous countries in Europe, most notably the Netherlands, Switzerland, and France in recent years.
  • 29,655 head of Canadian farm raised cervids (deer and elk) on 402 farms, a decrease of 21% from 2016 (37,343 cervids). 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 decreased by 2.4% from 2022 to 498,917 tonnes in 2023, valued at $5.0 billion. Exports to the United States were up by 4% in 2023, compared to 2022. Exports to Asia were lower; shipments to Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam decreased 33%, 25%, and 22% respectively from 2022, while exports to Mexico (Canada’s third largest market) increased 22% year-over-year. The United States is the major export market for Canadian beef, accounting for approximately 75% of exports in 2023.
  • In 2023, 734,029 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 (74%). In 2023, feeder cattle exports to the US represented 18% of the live exports, while calves and breeding cattle comprised the remaining 8%.
  • In 2023, 21.8 million hogs went to market in Canadian plants, an increase of 0.5% over 2022. In addition, 1.64 million head went to processing facilities in the United States and 5.0 million isoweans and feeder hogs went for feeding and finishing on United States farms. Live hog exports to all countries increased by 4% in 2023 (6.75 million head) compared to 2022 (6.49 million head).
  • Canadian pork exports totaled 1,348,793 tonnes during 2023 (valued at $4.7 billion); a decrease of 3% in both volume and value compared to 2022. Looking at the top five markets: export volumes to the United States (-11%), Japan (-14%), Mexico (-7%), and the Philippines (-21%) were all lower in 2023 vs 2022, but China (+25%) was up.
  • Processed pork exports totaled 80,898 tonnes in 2023 with the United States being the dominant purchaser (73%).

In addition to red meat exports, Canada can provide halal-certified, kosher and organic meat and meat products.


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For more detailed information, contact:

Deputy Director
Red meat section - Animal industry division
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
1341 Baseline Road, Tower 5, 4th floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0C5
Fax: 613-773-0300
Web site:

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