OTTAWA – The third annual Canada’s Agriculture Day was celebrated on Feb. 12 with forums and special events held across Canada under the theme “The Future of Food”. In Ottawa, a full day forum with keynote speakers and a producer panel engaged attendees on the types of foods they want to eat and the trends and technologies that enhance how food is produced in Canada.

“Canada has a long-standing reputation as a producer of some of the world’s safest, most reliable and high-quality food,” said Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, who participated in Canada’s Agriculture Day celebration in Ottawa. “This day celebrates all the hard work, energy and care that goes into producing the food we love every day of the year.”

Minister MacAulay chose Canada’s Agriculture Day celebrations in Ottawa to announce the new Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program (CASPP) with a federal investment of $50.3-million over five years. The CASPP focuses on four priorities: adoption of new technology; environmental sustainability; strategic development and capacity building; and, emerging issues.

MacAulay said Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector contributes over $110-billion to the economy and generates thousands of quality middle-class jobs in the food processing, transportation and retail sectors across Canada. He said the industry is on target to meet the federal government’s objective of generating $75-billion in agri-food exports by 2025.

“There are so many career opportunities for young people in this growing and dynamic industry and we need to attract more of them to meet the challenge of feeding the world’s growing population,” said Michael Hoffort, Farm Credit Canada’s president and CEO. “Canada’s Agriculture Day is just one way the industry is promoting itself to attract people with fresh ideas and new energy, who will ensure Canadian agriculture remains strong and sustainable well into the future.”

Canada is one of only a handful of countries that produces more food than it consumes, which puts Canada in a position of strength at negotiating tables.

Other speakers for the day included David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data, who presented millennials as the new dominant consumer group in Canada, having surpassed baby boomers in market power.

Oleen Smethurst, assistant vice-president, general merchandise manager of buying and operations for Costco Canada, discussed the Costco business model and how flavour, quality and traceability is more important than price.

Sarah Davis, president, Loblaws Companies Limited, shared her company’s three pillars of business: digital services (online ordering and delivery); connecting health strategies (partnering with Shoppers Drug Mart to make the connection between food, health and pharmaceuticals); and payment and rewards (combining PC and Shoppers points cards to create PC Optimum which gave out over $1-billion in rewards and payments in 2018).

Sonya McCullum Roberts, president, growth ventures and strategic pricing, Cargill Proteins, spoke of Cargill’s research and development into alternative proteins including plant-based and cell-based proteins and where they may fit into future markets and consumer trends.

A producer panel made up of Jessica Toner, a fourth-generation potato farmer from New Brunswick, and Christian Kaiser, a large operation dairy producer in Quebec, discussed production issues and trends.

The day wrapped up with charismatic inspirations from Olympic Gold Medallist and humanitarian Mark Tewksbury who shared his energy, insights and valuable life lessons.

The day concluded with an evening reception.