Saskatchewan ag exports hit a record

·6 min read

2020 was a record year for agricultural exports in Saskatchewan, helping the province lead the nation in growth in overall export sales over the previous year.

Saskatchewan produced $16.9 billion in agricultural exports last year, a 31 per cent increase from 2019 and a new high for the province. This represents more than 55 per cent of total provincial exports in 2020, which were valued at $30.4 billion.

This helps bring the province closer to meeting its Growth Plan goals, which include growing agri-food exports to $20 billion and increasing agriculture value-added revenue to $10 billion by 2030. These strong export numbers also reinforce Saskatchewan’s global reputation as a dependable source of safe, high-quality resources, goods and products.

Overall merchandise export sales in 2020 were more than $30 billion, up 2.5 per cent over 2019, the highest percentage increase among the provinces. On a national basis, exports were down 12.2 per cent over the same period.

Leading agriculture exports in 2020 continue to be canola seed, non-durum wheat, lentils, canola oil and durum wheat.

“The global Covid-19 pandemic has hit all economies hard worldwide, but these export numbers are strong signs our province is in a positive position for economic recovery in 2021,” Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison said. “With our world-class and growing export base, we have what the world wants and needs, and it will continue to drive investment and jobs for communities right across Saskatchewan.”

In 2020, major increases in exports were seen in farm and intermediate food products, forestry products and building and packaging materials, and industrial machinery, equipment, and parts. Saskatchewan’s top international markets for 2020 include the United States, China, Japan, and India—top markets for Saskatchewan agri-food exports in 2020 were the United States, China, Japan, India and Mexico.

“Saskatchewan producers grow safe, high-quality food that the world needs and our agriculture exporters remain committed to providing the world with these products,” Agriculture Minister David Marit said. “I want to commend our producers on their hard work and resilience, which led to a new record in agri-food exports for 2020.”

Increases in primary production as well as a growing value-added sector have contributed to the record agri-food export growth in Saskatchewan. In 2020, value-added exports were $3.2 billion. Canola oil, canola meal and processed oats were Saskatchewan’s top value-added products.

Currently, the Government of Saskatchewan is working to open three new trade offices in Singapore, Japan and India in 2021 to support increased export diversification. The new offices will complement the existing trade office in China, and continued access to Asian markets will benefit our key economic sectors.

Saskatchewan’s 31 per cent increase in agricultural exports since 2019 has been in large part to increased demand which has led to increased prices of high quality products.

“In 2020, Saskatchewan had more product available to service international markets. In 2019 and 2020, Saskatchewan recorded its second and third largest crops ever, with both years producing over 38 million metric tonnes of crop,” said a spokesperson for the Government of Saskatchewan.

“Many Agriculture commodities experienced increased prices due to increased world demand and some production problems in other parts of the world (Australia and Europe) as a result of adverse weather conditions. Other factors include prices in canola, pulses, barley and other crops increasing, Canada’s grain handling and transportation system performed well during the year, and all of Saskatchewan’s main field crops saw exports increase in 2020, with cereal grains, oilseeds and pulses increasing 21, 42 and 78 per cent respectively.”

As a result of the pandemic, the province saw increased demand in Saskatchewan produced agriculture products due to its strong reputations around the world.

“In 2020, Saskatchewan’s reputation as a trusted, safe and stable supplier of high quality agriculture commodities and value-added products was strengthened,” said the spokesperson. “There was an increased level of demand/dependence on Saskatchewan agriculture commodities as essential food staples in local diets around the world, including pulses and canola seed. The Saskatchewan government remains committed to supporting open and stable global supply chains by ensuring agri-food products can move efficiently, without disruption, through our transportation system.”

With Covid-19 having a negative impact both in Canada and globally on economies, Saskatchewan’s agriculture sector has been as important as ever in helping support the country as its backbone both through creating jobs and bringing in money.

“Saskatchewan is an export-dependent province and agri-food production continues to be an important part of the province’s economy, which is driven by fuel, fertilizer and food,” the spokesperson said. “Saskatchewan’s top exports are: fertilizer ($6.1 billion), cereal grains ($5.5 billion), mineral oil ($5.3 billion), oilseeds ($4.6 billion), pulses and vegetables ($3.5 billion), and animal/vegetable oils ($1.8 billion). The agri-food sector is a cornerstone of the Saskatchewan and Canadian economy, with agriculture and related activities accounting for approximately 10 per cent of Saskatchewan’s GDP and 35,000 jobs. In 2020, the value of Saskatchewan’s top 10 exports increased by 3% from $24.2 billion in 2019 to $24.9 billion in 2020. The top ten exports accounts for 82% of the total Saskatchewan exports and agriculture exports accounts for 56% of the top 10 exports in 2020, an increased from 43% in 2019 and accounts for more than 40% of overall merchandise exports in 2020.”

The success of Saskatchewan’s record agricultural exports is expected to continue in 2021—though nothing is guaranteed in the sector because of a number of factors, the Government of Saskatchewan is optimistic they will hit their Growth Plan goals for 2030.

“Agriculture production is weather dependent and can therefore be difficult to predict, however, over the medium term, we expect agri-food exports to reach new record levels. In 2020, the Government of Saskatchewan released its new growth plan,” said the spokesperson. “Two notable targets for 2030 include increasing agri-food exports to $20 billion and crop production to 45 million metric tonnes. In 2020, Saskatchewan had additional product to service international markets and we expect that capacity to increase in the years ahead. In 2019 and 2020, Saskatchewan recorded its second and third largest crops ever, with both years producing over 38 million metric tonnes of crop. Global demand for food, due to a growing population and rising incomes, is creating additional export opportunities.

“There are many factors that influence exports from year to year, for example crop prices. The Government of Saskatchewan will continue to work on and nurture trade relationships in priority markets, as well as seek growth opportunities in the agri-food industry.”

Rob Paul, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator