Canada’s Snack Food Industry

The Canadian snack food industry, North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) 31191, comprises establishments that are primarily engaged in salting, roasting, drying, cooking or canning nuts; processing grains or seeds into snacks; manufacturing peanut butter; or manufacturing potato chips, corn chips, popped popcorn, hard pretzels, pork rinds and similar snacks.

Significance

Snack foods have been one of the fastest growing product categories in the domestic market in recent years and are widely available in all retail channels across the country, including major chain grocery retailers, large format outlets, corner stores, drug stores, gas stations and vending machines as well as in movie theaters and at sporting events. This industry has been very responsive to consumer preferences for flavour, healthier products and convenience. The snack food industry has developed innovative products with new ingredients (such as hemp seeds, grains, and pulses), less salt, reduced fat, new flavours, and gluten-free options.

Structure

In 2012, 105 establishments were operating in Canada with the majority in Ontario (43), British Columbia (19), and Quebec (17). The industry generated revenues of $2.3 billion, and employed over 8,000 people. Production facilities making snack food products range in size from small to very large. The largest four firms account for 82% of the value of production. The industry is a net importer; Canada imported $676.7 million in snack food products in 2014, while $251.0 million was exported in the same year. The United States accounts for 90% of exports and the majority of imports come from the United States (85%), followed by Vietnam and Thailand.

Canadian snack food industry imports, exports and sales of goods manufactured (2012)
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The following figures are in millions of Canadian dollars.

Canadian snack food industry imports, exports and sales of goods manufactured (2012)
Imports 543.00
Exports 189.10
Domestic shipments 2,075.20
Canadian market (imports and domestic shipments) 2,618.20
Sales of goods manufactured (exports and domestic shipments) 2,264.30

Source: Statistics Canada

Performance

Between 2004 and 2012, sales of goods manufactured by the Canadian snack food industry increased 28.7% to $2.3 billion. Exports of snack food products grew at an average annual rate of 4.1% over the same period, while imports had an average annual growth rate of 11.2%. Imports as a percentage of the domestic market increased consistently from 12.5% in 2004 to 20.7% in 2012. Between 2004 and 2012, direct employment grew from 7,291 employees to 8,052. The domestic market is the industry’s most significant market, absorbing 91.6% of Canadian production. Demand for convenience foods in recent years has driven snack food sales and has generated growth both in the Canadian market and in export markets.

Canadian snack food industry sales of goods manufactured and employment (2004-2012)
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Canadian snack food industry sales of goods manufactured and employment (2004 -2012)
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Sales of goods manufactured (in millions of Canadian dollars) 1,758.84 1,820.49 1,679.47 1,876.81 2,075.80 2,129.02 2,154.11 2,246.77 2,264.29
Employment (number of people) 7,291 7,107 6,975 7,139 7,433 7,635 7,809 7,931 8,052

Source: Statistics Canada

Note: The manufacturing statistics cited in this profile are taken from Statistics Canada’s Annual Survey of Manufactures and Logging, which lags behind the current date by at least 2 years.

Snack Food, 2004-2013

Principal statistics [a] 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2012/11 AAG [b]
2007-12

Note:
[a] Statistics Canada, Annual survey of manufactures and logging (ASML) (note there is at least a 2 year lag in ASML figures)
[b] Average annual growth rate

Employment total (number of employees) 7,291 7,107 6,975 7,139 7,433 7,635 7,809 7,931 8,052 1.5%
Employment – production (number of employees) 5,021 4,786 4,728 4,763 4,966 5,060 5,195 5,270 5,319 0.9%
Employment - administration (number of employees) 2,270 2,321 2,247 2,376 2,467 2,575 2,614 2,661 2,733 2.7%
Total revenue (millions $) 2,009 2,115 1,976 2,200 2,407 2,472 2,523 2,606 2,628 0.8% 3.6%
Revenue from goods manufactured (millions $) 1,759 1,820 1,679 1,877 2,076 2,129 2,154 2,247 2,264 0.8% 3.8%
Value-added, goods manufactured (millions $) 1,097 1,142 1,045 1,108 1,220 1,255 1,294 1,349 1,358 0.7% 4.1%
Value-added/worker, goods manufactured (millions $) 0.22 0.24 0.22 0.23 0.25 0.25 0.25 0.26 0.26
Value-added as % of revenue from goods manufactured 62.4% 62.7% 62.2% 59.0% 58.8% 59.0% 60.1% 60.0% 60.0%
Domestic market (millions $) 1,853.0 1,942.3 1,820.4 2,055.3 2,307.7 2,337.0 2,381.0 2,554.4 2,618.2 2.5% 5.0%
Domestic penetration 87.5% 86.9% 84.5% 84.8% 83.5% 84.0% 83.8% 82.0% 79.3%
Global trade statistics [a] 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2013/12 AAG [b]
2008-13

Note:
[a] Industry Canada trade data online (Statistics Canada data)
[b] Average annual growth rate

Exports (millions $) 137.3 132.1 141.3 134.0 148.4 166.5 157.8 152.8 189.1 208.1 10.0% 7.0%
Exports as % of revenue from goods manufactured 7.8% 7.3% 8.4% 7.1% 7.2% 7.8% 7.3% 6.8% 8.4%
Imports (millions $) 231.4 253.9 282.1 312.5 380.4 374.5 384.7 460.4 543.0 591.6 8.9% 9.2%
Imports as % of domestic market 12.5% 13.1% 15.5% 15.2% 16.5% 16.0% 16.2% 18.0% 20.7%
Balance of trade (millions $) −94.1 −121.8 −140.9 −178.5 −231.9 −208.0 −226.9 −307.6 −353.9 −383.5
Trade statistics with the United States [a] 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2013/12 AAG [b]
2008-13

Note:
[a] Industry Canada trade data online (Statistics Canada data)
[b] Average annual growth rate

Exports (millions $) 131.4 121.3 128.1 119.7 130.7 152.2 142.6 136.9 167.4 186.6 11.5% 7.4%
Imports (millions $) 186.7 206.8 231.5 264.9 324.7 322.6 329.5 399.2 464.1 505.5 8.9% 9.3%
Balance of trade (millions $) −55.2 −85.5 −103.4 −145.3 −193.9 −170.4 −186.9 −262.3 −296.7 −318.9

Contact us

For more information about Canada's food industry, read Significance of the Food and Beverage Processing Industry in Canada or contact the Sector Development and Analysis Directorate at sdad-ddas@agr.gc.ca.

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