Infographics – agricultural products and their impacts

You can find Canadian agricultural products, foods and beverages around the globe. Besides feeding Canadians, agricultural products are a major contributor to the economy. See interesting facts about your favourite foods and Canadian agriculture, you might be surprised!


No wonder the agricultural industry is the apple of Canada's eye

Apples are produced across Canada on over 17,000 hectares of land.

Canada grows over 50 varieties of apples.

There are enough apples produced in Canada for every Canadian to consume 10 kilograms per year. That’s almost 100 apples per person!

The first Canadian apple tree was planted in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley in the 1600s.

Canada exports over $37 million worth of apples each year.

Apples are produced for direct consumption or processed for cider, apple wines, hard ciders, dried apples, baked goods or apple butter.

Canadian apple research achievements: Created apple varieties like the Spartan and the Salish; developed technologies to extend the shelf life and freshness of apples; developed a tool that lets apple growers test the ripeness of apples on the tree.


Ahead of the herd in cutting cattle carbon

1 kilogram of Canadian beef creates 15% fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2011 compared to 1981.

Decreased emissions and reduced resource requirements are due to: enhanced production and feed efficiency, crop yields, and management practices.

Investments in research and development, as well as industry's ability to adapt to new technologies were instrumental in shrinking beef's GHG environmental footprint.

It take 29% fewer cattle in the breeding herd and 24% less land to produce the same amount of beef in 2011 compared to 1981.

In 2018, Canada produced 1.3 million tonnes of beef and veal, and is the fifth largest global exporter of beef and cattle.


Little berry, big benefits

Highbush blueberries are planted and farmed. 95% are grown in British Columbia.

Lowbush blueberries are wild blueberries primarily found in Quebec and in the Atlantic provinces.

Our scientists are studying the health benefits of blueberries to reduce the risk of disease.

Blueberries are healthy and delicious!

Canadian producers harvest over 75,000 hectares of blueberries each year — that’s more than the entire land mass of Toronto!

Blueberries are high in fibre and nutrients, and low in calories.

Canada is the world's largest producer and exporter of lowbush blueberries, and the third largest producer and exporter of highbush blueberries.

In 2018, Canada exported close to $477 million worth of blueberries (highbush and lowbush).

Canola oil

Our canola oil really stands the heat

Canada is the number one canola-producing and exporting country in the world!

Canola oil has low levels of saturated fats, no trans-fats, no cholesterol, and is a good source of Vitamin E.

Canola oil has a high smoke point, making it ideal for frying and sautéing.

Canadian plant scientists developed canola in the 1960s.

On average, Canadian producers harvest 8 million hectares of canola land each year.

Canadian-grown canola contributes over $26 billion to the Canadian economy each year.

Canada exports approximately 90% of its canola as seed, oil, or meal to over 50 markets around the world.

Canola seeds are crushed to create meal (56%) and oil (44%).Meal is used for high protein livestock feed. Oil is used for salad dressing, marinades, margarine, biofuel, printer ink, adhesives and cosmetics.


Our kernels deserve attention

Corn has been grown as a farm crop in North America for over 800 years.

There are two types of corn: sweet corn for human consumption and field corn for animal feed, industrial uses and human consumption.

Sweet corn is grown in every province on 20,000 hectares of land. The majority is grown in Ontario and Quebec.

Canada harvests 1,300,000 hectares of corn annually. That’s almost enough to cover the surface area of Lake Ontario!

On average, Canada exports more than 10% of its total corn production. That’s over 1.4 billion kilograms annually.

Corn is used to make breakfast cereal, bread, whisky, livestock feed, and fish bait. It’s even used to create products like toothpaste, stamps, starch for clothing, and ethanol for fuel.

Canada is an international leader in corn breeding. In fact, many of our corn varieties are used in scientific research studies around the world.

Dairy products

Nothing can curdle our cream’s enthusiasm

There are over 11,280 dairy farms in Canada.

The Canadian dairy sector generates over $20 billion annually.

Each year, the average Canadian consumes 72 litres of milk, 13 kilograms of cheese, 11 litres of yogurt, and 5 litres of ice cream.

Canada's dairy sector provides Canadians with high-quality, safe and nutritious dairy products.

Canada’s dairy cows are known worldwide for their high milk production.

Dairy products contain up to 16 nutrients: calcium, protein and vitamin D, to name a few!

Our scientists add nutritional value to dairy products without compromising the great taste.

DNA barcoding

Bugs have barcodes!

Learn how DNA barcoding helps protect crops, agricultural imports and exports.

DNA makes every living thing unique — even bugs.

DNA barcoding, or reading a short sequence of DNA in a living thing, is a fast, cost effective and accurate way to identify one species of insect from another.

Scientists can use DNA barcodes to track

  • whether bugs are native, invasive or should be quarantined;
  • where bugs are moving and population sizes.

DNA barcodes are recorded in national and international databases.

Bugs registered in this database can be identified in seconds.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is taking the lead on creating thousands of DNA barcodes for the databases.

Fast identification of bugs as friend or foe helps to determine best pest-control measures, protects Canada’s ecosystem and improves trade.

Economic impacts of Canadian agriculture and agri-food

Agriculture and agri-food impacting the economy in ways we might not think!

  • Contributes over $100 billion annually to Canada’s economy.
  • The dairy industry generates more than $22.8 billion in sales.
  • Canadian grown canola contributes over $19 billion to the Canadian economy each year.
  • 1 in 8 jobs: Agriculture and agri-food industry employs 2.3 million Canadians.
  • Horticulture, including production of fruits and vegetables, generates on average 12% ($6.7 billion) of Canada’s farm cash receipts.


  • Canada is the fifth largest agricultural exporter in the world.
  • Canada is the world’s number one producer and exporter of fresh and frozen wild blueberries.
  • Canada exports 65% of its flaxseed to 53 countries.
Agriculture over the years

Agriculture then and now

  • Then: Small farm feeds 5 people.
  • Now: Larger farm feeds 120 people.

Grain harvesting

  • Then: By hand, 1 acre per day.
  • Now: Combine harvester, 150 acres per day.

Milking cows

  • Then: 1 cow produces 1,000 litres per year; milked by hand one at a time.
  • Now: 1 cow produces 8,500 litres per year; automated milking equipment.

Fresh food

  • Then: Growing season spring and summer; storage up to 6 months in a root cellar.
  • Now: Growing season all year; storage up to 12 months in climate controlled storage facilities.
Global impacts of Canadian agriculture and agri-food

Canadian agriculture and agri-food around the world

How Canadian food is having a global impact:

  • A world leader in pulse production and sales, Canada exports to about 150 countries worldwide.
  • Canada is the world's fourth largest exporter of fresh mushrooms.
  • Fish and seafood exports set a record in 2016 at $6.6 billion.
  • Canada ships approximately half of its sunflower seeds abroad.
  • Canada exports about half of its annual honey production to 27 countries.
  • Canada exports most of its organic production to India, the United States and the European Union.
  • As the world’s third-largest pork exporter, Canada exports to more than 90 countries.
  • Canada exports over 2,500 tonnes of ginseng roots to Asian markets annually.
Agricultural timeline, 1867 to 2017

Celebrating 150 years of agriculture

  • 2017: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada celebrates 150 years of agriculture.
  • 2008: Naked Oats, a hulless, hairless oat variety is released, attracts new markets as a rice replacement, high-end animal feed that is also cheaper to transport.
  • 1998: SmartCrate, a recyclable, reusable crate greatly reduces food waste by improving handling, storage and transportation.
  • 1997: AC Metcalf barley is released, dominates the market, and is prized by farmers and beer makers throughout the world.
  • 1980: The Shepody potato enters the world market and quickly becomes one of the most popular varieties for French fries.
  • 1979: First constructed by Canadian researchers, the commercial vegetable blancher is now used around the world for frozen food production.
  • 1977: Canola, a hybrid oilseed that made its debut in Canadian fields in 1973, is officially named and soon becomes Canada’s third largest cash crop.
  • 1968: Canadian gardens blossom with winter-hardy Explorer and Parkland roses, grown to withstand a northern climate.
  • 1957: Pest management techniques that include new planting methods and use of good bugs and bad bugs lessen the reliance on chemical pest control products.
  • 1943: The commercial soybean industry is born.
  • 1936: Canada first started growing mustard crops in Alberta and is now the world’s largest exporter.
  • 1921: Canadian experts develop wheat varieties resistant to rust, a disease that frequently threatened entire crops. By the late 1930’s, the new strain saves Canadian wheat farmers an average of $25 million a year in losses.
  • 1909: The first samples of Marquis wheat, an early maturing strain are sent for final testing, opening the Prairies to agriculture and Canada to international markets.
  • 1898: The value of exported cheese increases from $7.3 million in 1886 to $17.6 million in 1898 as the result of research done by the experimental farms.
  • 1886: Parliament passes legislation to create Canada’s first five research farms – the beginning of today’s network of 20 research centres across Canada.
  • 1867: The federal Department of Agriculture is created and the first Minister of Agriculture is appointed.
Agricultural fun facts

Did you know?

  • Wheat is Canada’s largest crop and the single biggest export earner of all agricultural products.
  • There are enough apples in Canada for every Canadian to consume 10 kilograms per year.
  • Canada produces approximately 4.5 million tonnes of potatoes every year (1 tonne equals more than 2,000 pounds).
  • Canada is home to more than 959,000 dairy cows.
  • Canada is the world’s largest exporter of oats and canola oil.
  • Canada produces about 80% of the world’s maple syrup.
  • Thanks to greenhouse technologies, farmers can grow fresh vegetables in Canada all year long.
Agricultural products are everywhere

Surprising uses for agricultural products — who knew?

  • Soy fibers are used to make the foam in car seats.
  • Soy is used in crayons.
  • Oats are used in biodegradable plastics.
  • Products containing wheat can include golf tees and liquid laundry detergent.
  • Potatoes are used in garbage bags.
  • Corn is used in toothpaste and windshield washer fluid.
  • Canadian mustard is used as an environmentally friendly pesticide and a natural fertilizer.
Women in science

Women in science


  • 1920s

    Faith Fyles – Botanist and Artist
    She became the Department’s first artistic botanist, documenting the true colour and technical detail of different varieties of fruit, vegetation and seeds in Canada.

    Isabella Preston – Queen of Ornamental Horticulture
    As Canada’s first professional female hybridist, she created nearly 200 new hardy hybrids of lily, lilac, crab apple, iris and roses for Canada’s cold climate.

  • 1930s

    Dr. Margaret Newton – Saving Canada’s Wheat
    She was the first woman in Canada to obtain a PhD in agricultural sciences and lead a team in studying wheat rust.

  • 1940s

    Dr. Mary MacArthur – Pioneer in Food Dehydration
    She was the first woman to be named a Fellow of the Agricultural Institute of Canada and was well known for her success with food dehydration and freezing.

  • 1960s

    Dr. Luella Weresub – Classifying and Naming Fungi
    She was a world authority on botanical nomenclature (classifying and naming species), especially as it applied to fungi.

    Dr. Felicitas Svejda – Mother of Roses
    She developed roses that could survive in Canada’s short growing season and bitter winters, including the Explorer rose series.


  • Dr. Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein – Livestock Behaviour, Health and Welfare
    As Canada’s expert on beef cattle behaviour and welfare, she influenced the regulations and guidelines for North America’s commercial beef cattle industry.

    Dr. Heather McNairn – Using Satellites to Monitor Crop and Soil Conditions
    She has developed new ways to monitor crop and soil conditions, integrating radar and optical satellite data to classify crop types to produce annual national crop maps.

    Dr. Martine Dorais – Organic Greenhouse Production
    Recognized as a global expert in organic greenhouse production, she conducts research in berry production and vertical agriculture.

    Dr. Karen Beauchemin – Cattle Nutrition and Greenhouse Gases
    She is recognized internationally for her cattle nutrition research to improve air quality and reduce the environmental footprint of the livestock sector.

    Dr. Christine Norohna – Innovative Pest Control
    She develops innovative strategies to reduce insecticide use in agricultural crops in Atlantic Canada.

    Dr. Joyce Boye – Using Food to Improve Human Health and Nutrition
    Appointed as Special Ambassador for North America for the 2016 International Year of Pulses, she specializes in plant proteins and their importance in helping to improve human health and nutrition.

Maple syrup

No wonder this syrup is such a sweetie

Canada is home to over 11,000 maple farms. Almost 70% are in Quebec.

Canada produces a lot of maple syrup! Approximately 80% of the world's maple syrup is produced in Canada. That’s about 44 million litres each year. Enough to fill 17 Olympic-size swimming pools!

Canadian maple product exports have increased by over 20% in the last 5 years. Today, approximately 45 million kilograms are exported to countries all around the world. Top importers are the United States, Japan, Germany.

How do you like your maple syrup, fruity, spicy or milky? Canadian scientists have created the world's first-ever maple-syrup flavour wheel that describes the range of flavours in maple products.

Canada’s Indigenous peoples taught the early settlers how to harvest sap and boil it to make maple syrup. Approximately 40 litres of sap equals 1 litres of maple syrup.
We grow a lot more than you may think.

Mustard seed

These seeds really cut the mustard

Canada is the world’s second largest producer and exporter of mustard seed. Approximately 78% is grown in Saskatchewan, 21% in Alberta and 1% in Manitoba. The Canadian prairies have ideal conditions for the drought-resistant, cool-weather crop.

Starting with only 40 hectares of mustard crops in Alberta in 1936, Canada now harvests over 153,000 hectares of mustard crops per year. That’s more than 8 times the size of Saskatchewan’s capital city, Regina!

Canada produces three mustard types:

  • Yellow: mildest with lowest oil content.
  • Brown: used for Dijon-style mustards.
  • Oriental: used as a condiment and spicy cooking oil.

More than 50% of Canada’s mustard seed exports are to the U.S. — that’s over 62,400 metric tonnes per year!

Our researchers work to improve the nutritional benefits and crop yield of mustard. They’ve created new yellow, brown and oriental mustard varieties with less oil, more protein and higher yields. They are also discovering ways mustard can work as an alternative to pesticides in organic farming.

Mustard is flavourful and nutritious!

  • Essential ingredient in mayonnaise, salad dressings, soups and prepared meats.
  • Low in calories.
  • Cholesterol free.
  • High in protein.
  • Contains calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Our potatoes have eyes on the future

Potatoes are one of the most important vegetable crops in Canada and are grown in every province.

On average, Canada produces 4.5 million tonnes of potatoes per year,

  • 14% for seed
  • 21% are used for fresh market
  • 65% for processing.

In 2017, Canada exported $1.7 billion in potatoes and potato products — that’s a 50% increase over the last 5 years!

1 medium potato with skin (148 g) equals 100 calories

The Shepody potato was developed by our scientists. It is one of the most common varieties used to make French fries and is the second-most popular potato in Canada.

Scientists have developed new potato varieties with higher starch content to create biodegradable plastics for products like bags and cutlery; and a diabetic-friendly, low-glycemic index potato.


What is a pulse?

Pulses are the edible dried seeds of plants in the legume family — dried beans, dried peas, lentils, chickpeas.

A great addition to any diet; full of minerals like iron, zinc, b-vitamins, folate.

High in fibre, high in protein, low in fat, low glycemic index.

Good for farmers too:

  • Pulses have nitrogen-fixing properties that increase soil health.
  • Grown for both human consumption and animal feed markets.
  • Average farm gate value of $2.6 billion.
  • Average export value of $3.2 billion.

We're number one! Canada is the world's largest producer and exporter of lentils and peas.


No wonder the tomato wears a crown

Greenhouse tomatoes are produced in most Canadian provinces. 68% come from Ontario.

On average, Canada exports over $350 million worth of tomatoes each year, the majority are to the U.S.

In Canada, tomatoes are grown commercially in greenhouses and in fields.

Canadian producers harvest over 5.9 million square metres of tomatoes each year. That’s equivalent to over 900 Canadian football fields!

The average Canadian consumes 8.2 kilograms of tomatoes each year. That’s over 80 tomatoes per person!

We’ve been studying tomatoes for over a century! We’re finding better ways to grow tomatoes using hydroponics in greenhouses and drip irrigation in field production.

Tomatoes are delicious, healthy and contain disease-fighting properties.

  • Vitamin C
  • Beta carotene
  • Lycopene – one of the world’s most powerful antioxidants.

Did you know? Tomatoes can be red, yellow, pink or purple. Tomatoes are consumed by astronauts in space.


Our wheat is in a field of its own

Canada produces an average of 30 million tonnes of wheat each year. Wheat is primarily grown in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. Saskatchewan is the largest producer of wheat.

Canada is the world’s largest producer of high-protein milling wheat. Canada is one of the world’s top five wheat exporters, with an average of $7 billion exported annually. Top importer is the United States.

We’ve been breeding wheat varieties for over 100 years!

  • Marquis wheat: A high-quality grain that kick started Canada’s prominence as a grain grower.
  • Gluten-rich varieties of durum wheat: Prized by pasta manufacturers around the world.
  • Canada Western Red Spring wheat: Premium wheat for bread production.

Wheat is a versatile grain! Wheat is a major ingredient in bread, biscuits and breakfast cereals. It’s even used to create products like paper, cosmetics, plastic bags, cups, golf tees, hair conditioner and liquid laundry detergent.

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