10. Bird flu
Over 260 farms have been affected by avian flu and more than 4 million birds have had to be culled due to outbreaks this year. While turkey and chicken are doing well, the duck industry’s recovery remains uncertain. Bird flu, probably one of the food stories that should have gotten more attention, likely made poultry, meat and eggs more expensive at the grocery store.
The year 2022 has reminded us that cyberterrorism poses a real threat to our food supplies. Sobeys and Maple Leaf Foods suffered a cyberattack this year. JBS Canada paid a ransom worth $11 million last year. No one knows if Sobeys or Maple Leaf Foods also paid a ransom, but we expect more hacks in the future. Hopefully the food industry will be ready.
8. Shortage of infant formula
Few people knew that Canada does not produce its own liquid or powdered formula. All production from the Canada Royal Milk plant located in Kingston, Ontario, is sent to China. Hard to believe. Across the country, parents have been struggling to find infant formula since the beginning of May 2022. Yet another event showing how quickly we can become vulnerable as a country when a single US factory cease its operations.
7. FDA approval of lab-grown chicken
Cultured meat, often called laboratory meat, will be on our shelves very soon. The US FDA just approved cultured chicken in the US. Once the USDA approves it, this cultured meat will be marketed in the United States. When it comes to the environment, animal welfare, disease outbreaks and pandemics, this technology may be a game-changer in the future. Canada could be the next country to approve this product. But if you want these products to carry proper labeling, don’t hold your breath.
6. Lettuce Reminder
California is drying up, which is increasingly a problem for Canada. In the fall, the price of lettuce jumped in no time, and we still had to find some. The situation is recovering slowly with lettuce from elsewhere. The shortage of lettuce in Canada this year is another example of how climate change is now forcing the international food trade to redefine itself.
5. Fertilizer Chaos
The Trudeau government wants a 30% reduction in emissions by 2030, which doesn’t necessarily include fertilizers, but growers say reducing nitrous oxide emissions can’t be achieved without reducing fertilizer use . This policy has drawn attention for many this year. Ottawa wants an absolute reduction in emissions, regardless of productivity or efficiency of fertilizer use. For many crops, our farmers’ ability to grow anything will be severely compromised unless they use more land. This is another example of how urban-centric politics drives agrifood policies today.
4. Ottawa’s new front-of-package labeling rule
Health Canada announced in June that it would move forward with a policy requiring front-of-package nutrition symbols on foods high in saturated fat, sugar and sodium. This concept will provide clear and easy to read labels. Manufacturers have until 1er January 2026 to change their labeling to comply with the new requirement. These new regulations spawned the now well-known phrase “Don’t Label My Beef” since Ottawa intended to label single-ingredient products like ground meat, potentially becoming the first country in the world to do so. To do. Ottawa changed its mind at the last minute. This new standard will incentivize manufacturers to produce healthier food as it creates a level playing field for all businesses. Good decision from Ottawa.
Chrystia Freeland was right. The blockades impacted Canada’s reputation in the United States and may have given Americans another excuse to support their America First policies. Several blockades across the country have interrupted trade between Canada and the United States. The Ambassador Bridge, the busiest international land crossing between the United States and Canada, was closed from February 7 to 13. Between $8 billion and $12 billion worth of agri-food products cross the Ambassador Bridge in both directions each year. Canada really didn’t look good.
2. Food inflation and the search for culprits
Inflation is becoming a major concern for everyone this year. The fact that Canada has the second lowest food inflation rate in the G7 doesn’t matter. From a parliamentary inquiry to our Competition Bureau’s study of grocer profits, many Canadians blame the grocery industry, trying to find a scapegoat for food affordability issues. The industry has felt the pressure of “greed” campaigns this year. It even prompted Loblaw to implement the world’s largest price freeze policy for a grocer until the end of January 2023. While it’s important for policymakers and regulators to understand what’s going on, it there is no evidence of abuse in the food retail trade. But doubts persist.
How can Ukraine not take the top spot and be the biggest news of the year? When the country was cruelly invaded by Russia on February 24, many Canadians did not realize how this region of the world played such a vital role in the global agri-food sector. With its agricultural production, Ukraine can feed 400 million people every year. That’s more than the US population. Russian exports, hit by the sanctions, are also critical. A few months after the invasion, many commodities reached record prices. In June, processors had to pay more for inputs, which ultimately affected food inflation across the globe. Access to fertilizers has also been compromised. Hopefully 2023 will bring a peaceful end to the horrors suffered by the people of Ukraine.
In short, the year 2022 has been captivating to say the least. But it also brought its share of concern. We should hope that the year 2023 will bring more peace and health to the world, including to Ukrainians.