Author Barbara Grinfeld

Exporting Food Safety

Canadian firms can cash in on Canada’s reputation for food safety in overseas markets.

Most people think of food safety as something that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency takes care of. In this context, it is the sum of checks and balances in Canada’s agri-food system that ensures the safe consumption of domestic and imported products.

For Canadians who export agri-food products, food safety also stems from a set of skills that can be “marketed” — by leveraging our reputation for high-quality and safe commodities, processed foods and beverages. At EDC we have started to look at food safety as a category of goods and services that Canadians can export around the world.

Sub-categories that we have identified to date include traceability systems, scanning technology, laboratory testing, packaging and food preservation, transportation and cold storage, and consulting.

Traceability, for one, is becoming increasingly important because of “food fraud.” An example is the recent scandal in Europe when horse meat was substituted for beef, creating a serious crisis in consumer confidence. In Canada, evidence of tracing systems is showing up in our supermarkets, through foods like fish that are tagged with information on where they were caught.

Laboratory testing focuses on rapid detection of pathogens like Listeria and E. Coli, to avoid detrimental impacts on consumers and supply chains. And scanning machines can detect foreign objects or confirm product quality attributes, such as the amount of fat in batches of milk.

At EDC we are searching for Canadian companies with all these types of food safety competencies, to help show international buyers the full value that Canadians bring to this field. Do we have enough capabilities in the food safety value chain to attract international buyers? We think so and continue to expand our list of relevant companies.

We also see growing demand for food safety-related equipment, technologies and services. Consider that Walmart, as part of its strategy to enter the Indian market, has promised to support and train local firms to ensure safety in its supply chain. For emerging markets like China, where the middle class is growing quickly, imports can often command a price premium for safety and quality.

There is also potential for Canadian firms to provide consulting services on safe plant set-up and monitoring, which may be of growing interest to emerging market clients. In many cases, Canadian firms can take what they already know and package it in a total goods and services solution that promotes food safety.

Do you know a food safety company that we should include in our research? Email me at:

Categories Agri-food, Industry Insights

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