August 7th, 2015
Food processing is a vital aspect of Canada’s economy. The meat industry is Canada’s third largest industry, and was fifth in world pork exports in 2011. Hog processing takes place across the country, but one typically finds hog processing plants close to livestock production centres and major population centres.
Canadians do indeed love their bacon: pork represents around 40% of overall Canadian meat production. The changing face of the industry since the early twentieth century indicates the evolving the nature of the hog sector, as with the majority of agricultural operations in the country. This article examines the progression of these trends, charting the development of the Canadian hog processing industry.
Shifting Tides: Looking Back a Century
Between the years 1921 and 2011, the proportionate number of farms to population went from 8.1 per 100 inhabitants to 0.6 per 100 inhabitants. These numbers do not reflect a drop in production, however: just the opposite, in fact. Despite the dramatic drop in farms reporting pigs (from 452,935 to 7,371), the rise of Canadian hog herds over this time went from 3,324,291 head to 12,679,104.
Of course, these changes did not happen immediately. As with most change it was a slow process. The change from subsistence farming with a variety of livestock to a more specialized and commercialized hog processing industry did not happen overnight.
The 1960’s witnessed a marked advance in the hog industry with the rise of slaughterhouses and specialty delicatessens. Since that time the industry has continued to grow, particularly with the coming of the North American Free Trade Agreement in the 1990’s. There has been some adversity, such as price declines in 1998 and falling demand from international markets, but the sector remains strong.
These days, almost all commercial hog production takes place in a carefully controlled environment to ensure quality and safety while helping to prevent the outbreak of disease and any stresses associated with hog movement. Observing breeding behaviour and managing hogs through to maturity helps ensure the success of the industry.
Due to thorough quality control measures, the industry continues to experience success. In 2011, the hog industry tallied impressive receipts of CAD $3.9 billion.
Canadian Pork in the Worldwide Market
There is always a demand for meat around the world: not only is it delicious, but many people rely on meat as an important source of protein.
In fact, pork is the world’s most consumed meat, particularly in North America, Europe, and many Asian countries. Since 1960, worldwide pork production shifted from 20 million tonnes to 108 million tonnes in 2011.
Canadian hog processing plants play an important role in these figures, as the world’s fifth largest pork producer. The industry remains highly competitive, using state of the art technology and equipment to adapt to shifting trade environments. Canadian pork exporters build on a tradition spanning back to nineteenth century.
The majority of Canadian pork is destined for export on the world’s market, including such heavyweights as the United States, Russia, Japan, and China.
A Reputation for Quality
No industry experiences continued success without an established reputation for high quality products. Canadian producers deliver pork that is lean, wholesome, and high yielding, tailoring their products to the specific desires of their diverse markets. For these reasons, they continue to benefit from loyal and satisfied customers.
There is a reason why Canadian hog processing plants are in demand, and why pork is the world’s most popular meat. Whether at breakfast, lunch, or dinner, pork always has a place in any family’s diet. Canadian producers create a variety of top quality products that satisfy the needs of domestic and international markets, helping make every meal a unique and delicious experience.