Business Opportunities for Agrifood Seafood Producers in BC


Agriculture and food products exports rose 7.8%[1] and the Canadian food industry manufacturing GDP increased 7.4% in 2016.[2]

As B.C.’s agrifood and seafood sector continues to grow, the need for coordinated regional strategies for agrifood/seafood producers in the province remains critical. 

The sector showed a 25% increase in annual revenue from $10.5B in 2010 to a record $13B in 2015.[3]  A coordinated regional approach for the delivery of goods to market will assist the Province with achieving the B.C. Agrifood and Seafood Strategic Growth Plan’s goal of growing the sector to $15B by 2020.[4] 

A long-term strategy to grow the annual revenue of B.C.’s agrifood/seafood sector to $20B by 2025 should also be developed.

Approximately 7% of Canada’s land area is suitable for farming.  Although B.C. has only 4% of Canada’s farmland, the province generates 6% of the country’s gross farm receipts.[5] 

Between 2011 and 2013, B.C. produced over 80% of Canada’s apricots and sweet cherries, over 40% of its pears and plums, and over 20% of its apples, nectarines and peaches.  British Columbia producers also lead the nation in sales of blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, garlic and leaks, apricots, cherries, pears, plums, apples, nectarines, peaches as well as salmon, halibut and a variety of other fish and shellfish.[6] 

The adoption of a regional approach to business planning for B.C. agrifood/seafood producers will improve access to:

  • funding programs/agencies for agriculture;
  • food safety regulatory agencies;
  • technical expertise and consultants; and
  • methods of selling or expanding a farm business.

The Province’s BC Buy Local Program has invested $8M in 200 B.C. companies assisting businesses to expand their reach and sales in B.C. communities and leverage $29M in investments in “Matching Funds.”[7]  The 2017 provincial budget announced an additional $6M in funding ($2M per year) over the next three years.

The International Market Development Strategy developed by the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture outlines a plan to connect B.C. products with foreign buyers and markets, including The B.C. Export Catalogue showcasing 100 B.C. Producers that are ready to export their products to foreign markets.[8]  The B.C. government’s network of 13 international trade offices, B.C. trade missions, and innovation and market development funding have all played roles in increasing our exports which reached a record $3.5B in 2015.[9]

AgriTECH investments such as the B.C. AG-Tech Venture Acceleration Program help maximum productivity, minimize inputs and create greater value for B.C.’s farmland and Coast.[10] 

A long-term commitment from the province for continued funding to these programs will provide greater certainty and a stronger investment climate for agritech and agritourism businesses.

Partnering with the federal government benefits B.C. agrifood/seafood producers through programs such as the Growing Forward 2 (GF2) agreement with the Province of British Columbia.  This program provides funding for risk management programs, new product development, and commercialization that increase sustainability and competitiveness. 

The Investment Agriculture Foundation is an industry-led not-for-profit organization that works with the agri-food industry to strategically invest federal and provincial funds towards projects that have the potential to transform ideas into solutions.[11]

Up to $600,000 in federal and provincial funding is available for projects between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018 (FY 2017/18).  Eligible projects should enable B.C.’s agriculture, food and seafood sectors to increase export sales and expand international market access through participation in international development activities.  A maximum of $50,000 in funding is available and participants must contribute 50% in cash of the total project cost.[12]

Agriculture and Agri-food Canada administers three broad federal programs under GF2 aimed at generating market-based economic growth in the agricultural sector. They are:[13]

  • AgriInnovation
  • AgriCompetitiveness and
  • AgriMarketing

GF2 is a five-year (2013-2018) policy framework for Canada’s agricultural and agri-food sector.  GF2 is a $3 billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) governments and the foundation for government agricultural programs and services.  GF2 programs focus on innovation, competitiveness and market development to ensure Canadian producers and processors have the tools and resources they need to continue to innovate and capitalize on emerging market opportunities.  In addition, an effective suite of Business Risk Management programs helps farmers in managing risk due to severe market volatility and disaster situations.[14]

The Mandate Letter for the federal Minister of Agriculture and Agrifood commits to implementing a new multi-year agricultural policy framework to replace GF2 in 2018.  Opportunities exist to engage in consultations with the federal government to help shape the direction of future policy and programs for the agriculture and agri-food sector.[15] The federal government followed through on its commitment of a $950M investment in industry-led super clusters in sectors such as manufacturing and agri-food in the 2017 federal budget.[16]

Continued cooperation between local, provincial, federal and international governments will assist B.C. agrifood/seafood producers resulting in increased economic growth and food supply security in our communities.


That the Provincial Government:

  1. extend investment of at least $2M per year in the B.C. BUY LOCAL Program in 2020;
  2. develop a long-term strategy to grow annual revenue of the agrifood/seafood sector in British Columbia to $20B by 2025.
  3. continue cooperative partnerships with local, federal and international governments in the delivery of funding programs that assist B.C. businesses with getting their product to market;
  4. creates regional initiatives that promote incentives for agritech and agritourism investment and ecologically, environmentally and economically responsible innovation in B.C.’s agrifood/seafood sector;
  5. provides support to SME businesses in our communities that create local agri-tourism activities for visitors to British Columbia; and
  6. encourages regional economic development alliances focused on attracting and facilitating business retention and expansion.

That the Federal Government:

  1. extend B.C.’s agrifood/seafood sector funding programs beyond the current commitment of $427M from 2013-2018.


[1] CMEA Merchandise Sales Analysis Nov 2016 page 2

[2] CMEA Merchandise Sales Analysis Nov 2016 page 10

[3] BC Strategic Plan 2017/2018, Agrifood/Seafood page 6

[4] BC Strategic Plan 2017/2018, Agrifood/Seafood page 6

[5] COEDC Profile for Agriculture November 2015 page 5

[6] COEDC Profile for Agriculture November 2015 page 5

[7] BC Strategic Plan 2017/2018, Agrifood/Seafood page 6

[8] BC Strategic Plan 2017/2018, Agrifood/Seafood page 6

[9] BC Strategic Plan 2017/2018, Agrifood/Seafood page 6

[10] BC Strategic Plan 2017/2018, Agrifood/Seafood page 6

[11] IAFBC Growing Forward 2: BC Agrifood & Seafood Export Program 2017/18

[12] IAFBC Growing Forward 2 BC Agrifood & Seafood Export Program 2017/18

[13] Growing Forward 2

[14] Growing Forward 2

[15] Growing Forward 2

[16] Ensight Analysis: Federal Budget 2017 Innovation page 3

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