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Canada's Processed Food Industry Trade Balance Deteriorating

OTTAWA, Nov. 14, 2012 /CNW/ - Canada's trade balance in processed food is deteriorating, having reached a deficit of $6.3 billion in 2011, according to a new report from the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI).

For 20 years, Canada has recorded trade deficits in value-added processed food which includes secondary processing of food products and beverages.

But since 2004, the deficit has worsened from less than $1 billion to $6.3 in 2011. (See Figure 1).

These data are examined in the report The State of Canada's Processed Food Sector: Trade Balance, released today by CAPI. The analysis does not focus on primary processing.

Historically, Canadian exports of processed food products have increased. But since 2004 that growth has stalled, while imports have continued to steadily rise.

"Undoubtedly, there are companies that are growing and investing but we need to better understand the implications of sustained and deepening trade deficits for the future competitiveness of the processed food sector and the agri-food sector as a whole," said David McInnes, CAPI's President and CEO.

The situation is far-reaching. Canada's processed food trade with the US and Mexico has shifted from a surplus of $2.2 billion in 2004 to a deficit of $1.3 billion in 2011. For all other countries, the trade balance has worsened from negative $3.2 billion to negative $5 billion over the same period.

The deficit picture in processed food contrasts sharply with the positive trade balances of all the other categories of agricultural production, namely commodities.

Most of the data were supplied by Industry Canada; these data are grouped by categories established by the World Customs Organization's Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System. 

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