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On Economics

Economic parameters are a key component of a product’s sustainability.

Economic sustainability is defined as the ability of a system to maintain productivity in the face of a major disturbance, as well as shifts in consumer preferences.

Research suggests that for every worker employed by farm-level production of cattle in Canada, 2.5 workers are employed either directly or indirectly in the Canadian economy. And for every worker employed in the Canadian meat packing industry, another 3.4 workers are employed, including direct and indirect employment.

The Canadian cattle industry contributes:

  • $51.6 billion in production of goods and services
  • $21.8 billion to the Canadian GDP
  • $11.7 billion in labour income annually

For the beef industry, economic sustainability focuses on the resilience of the industry as a whole and its ability to adapt to changing market conditions – specifically Producer Viability and Consumer Resilience.

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Producer viability refers to beef farmers’ financial ability and incentive to continue participating as part of the Canadian beef supply chain. This assessment showed the following:
  • Cow-Calf Operations’: Significant increase for cow-calf returns in Alberta and Ontario although cost of living and cost of production has also increased significantly.
  • Feedlots: Feedlot [bunk] capacity – the number of animals that can be housed in a feedlot at any given time – in Alberta and Saskatchewan increased by 19%.
  • Beef Processors: For every worker employed in the Canadian meat packing industry, another 3.4 workers are employed, including direct and indirect employment.
The 2021 assessment indicates an overall increase in industry profitability on a per head basis, compared to 2014, although input costs have also increased.
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Consumer resilience is the ability of consumers to support the Canadian beef supply chain, despite challenges that may occur. Consumer demand is the ultimate driver for the long-term development of the cattle industry.
  • Demand for Canadian beef has remained strong, both domestically and internationally.
Continuing to support the beef supply chain to respond to changes in market demand and consumer perceptions are key to the sustainability of the industry – sharing the practices that are of interest to consumers, and showing how adoption of technologies, innovations and scientific research contribute to continuous improvement in how beef is raised here in Canada.