Like, really big.
In fact, it’s the province’s largest manufacturing field and consists of over 4,000 processors and employs over 125,000 people. It extends from small to large businesses and everything in between.
The food and beverage manufacturing industry encompasses all companies involved in processing raw food materials, packaging and distributing them. This includes fresh, prepared foods as well as beverages and confectioneries.
All this is possible because Ontario has the perfect combination of fertile land, high population density and transportation hubs that allow for it to be a North American leader.
Overall, this industry can be broken down into 11 subsectors based on the type of foods they produce.
Here’s a closer look at them:
Ontario’s meat and poultry sector employs 24% of Ontario’s food and beverage processing industry and is continuing to grow.
The segment covers establishments primarily engaged in slaughtering animals including poultry, preparing processed meats and rendering animal fat, bones and meat. Much of the industry includes value-added for meat products in the secondary processing such as turning raw products into things like sausages, deli meats and frozen meats.
Seafood doesn’t just come from the sea. Ontario has a thriving aquaculture industry.
There are a variety of fish farms scattered throughout Ontario, which includes the Great Lakes on Lakes Erie, Huron, Superior and Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. In addition, licensed commercial fisheries operate in Lakes Nipigon, Rainy, Lake of the Woods and a few smaller inland lakes under the auspices of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Seafood farmed in Ontario includes rainbow trout, pacific white shrimp, tilapia, barramundi, perch and lake whitefish.
The beverage industry (also called the drink industry) manufactures drinks and ready-to-drink products.
It can fit into two categories, i.e. alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Alcoholic beverages include distilled drinks, (sparkling wine, cider and brewing), while non-alcoholic beverages include facilities that make juice, carbonated soft drinks, bottled water, and ready-to-drink teas and coffee. Facilities differ based on the type of bottle they put their drinks in such as canned or bottled, cold-fill or hot-fill.
Fruit and Vegetable Preserving and Specialty
Ontario is recognized around the country for its wide selection of high-quality produce.
The best way of thinking about this category is any manufacturer that transforms produce in some way such as freezing, pickling, canning or dehydrating, can be classified under this category. Important fruits and vegetables that are grown in Ontario include soybeans, corn, mushrooms and apples however, this just scratches the surface.
Dairy Milk Manufacturing
Canada has a unique approach to milk production because it operates under a supply management system. Ontario enforces a strict quality standard on dairy farms and in processing plants.
There are two main markets for milk, the fluid market (like the milk bags and cartons you get in the grocery store) and the industrial market (milk that gets used for cheese and other dairy products).
Examples of Ontario processors in the category: Dairy Farmers of Ontario.
Bakeries and tortilla manufacturing
Ontario’s largest food and beverage manufacturing category.
Think of all those delicious baked goods that you eat, such as breads, cakes, pastries, pies and anything along those lines. This sector covers establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing bakery products for retail sale but not for immediate consumption. This means your local bakery would not be included in this segment.
Grain and Oilseed Milling
The Ontario grain and oilseed milling industry can be divided into three main subgroups: milling grains and oilseeds, refining and blending fats and oils, and making breakfast cereal products.
The first subgroup are processors that mill and crush grains to turn them into ingredients that secondary processors such as the bakery industry, as listed above, can use in their recipes. Oil producers, such as those that create cooking oils and pressed oils, are also classified under this category. Breakfast cereals are mainly made of corn, rice, wheat, oats and barley. Therefore, manufacturers who transform grains themselves into cereals would be classified here.
The Ontario food industry isn’t just limited to foods for human consumption but animals too.
Animal food processing plants are facilities that process, package, store or otherwise handle meat of fish productions that are not for human consumption. Meat, fish or any other ingredients that are used to produce animal foods are stored, packed, packaged, processed, treated, boned or cut up. Just like food fit for humans, all animal feed is subject to regulations and food safety standards.
Sugar and Confectionery
Canadian sugar plays a huge role in Canada’s food processing industry.
Over 85% of Canada’s refined sugar is used by Canadian companies. Sugar comes from sources such as sugar cane and sugar beets. This sugar can then be transformed into processed goods such as sugars, chewing gum, cough drops, granola bars, and chocolate bars. All of these are also included in this category!
If a segment can not be classified in any of the former categories it will fall under this one.
This industry comprises establishments, not classified to any other industry, primarily engaged in manufacturing and packaging for individual resale, perishable prepared foods such as salads, fresh pizza, fresh pasta, and peeled or cut vegetables, are included.
On October 17, 2019, the production and sale of edible cannabis, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals became legal in Canada under the Cannabis Act.
This act has allowed licensed manufacturers the ability to manufacture food items with the addition of THC. There are strict regulations that manufacturers must adhere to with regard to packaging labels. Overall, with respect to the food industry, this category only applies to products that are edible/part of a beverage.
Example of Ontario processors in the category: Canopy Growth Corp.
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