B.C. food sales top $13 billion

Farming, ranching, seafood help propel sector to record highs in 2015 

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Sales of food grown in British Columbia rose by more than $700 million to reach $13 billion in 2015, an increase of more than 7% over 2014.

This was the second year in a row that food sales grew by $700 million and the first time sales have ever topped $13 billion, according to figures released this week by the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture.

“To see the sector surpass the $13 billion mark is very exciting,” said James Donaldson, CEO of the BC Food Processors Association. “The agrifoods sector has a majority impact on B.C.’s economy and has been demonstrating growth year after year, so this is a success story that everyone can celebrate.”

In 2015, sales from the primary agriculture sector, which includes farmers, ranchers and producers, were up by almost $150 million, reaching $3.1 billion. B.C.’s seafood sector also saw sales growth, increasing 4.7% to $867 million. Food and beverage manufacturing, which makes up most of the agrifoods industry, rose by 9.1%, going from $8.3 billion to $9.1 billion.

With increased sales came increased production, as farmed seafood production rose by 31% to 96,000 tonnes.

The Ministry of Agriculture is taking some credit for the increase, citing its buy-local program and international trade offices as contributing to the sales increase.

“The B.C. Government has a plan to grow the sector to $15 billion by 2020 and it is clearly working,” said B.C. Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick. “With annual sector revenues growing by $2.5 billion in five short years as a result.”