Food Importers and Food Import Trends in Canada – BestFoodImporters 2023 Update

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Blog, Food Importers, News, Trends
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Nicknamed the Great White Nord, Canada is a major global economic force, with imports worth US$681.5 billion last year. Food imports continued to rise especially for fresh fruits and vegetables, which saw an increase of 17.5% to reach almost a record level of $7.3 billion in 2022. The following article will analyze Canada’s main food imports and trends and identify some of the top Canadian food importers.

The growing international demand for exotic products, mainly fruits and vegetables, such as bananas, lemons, watermelon, and,  pineapple is also affecting Canada, which due to its climate must rely heavily on imports. Latin America is the biggest supplier of fresh fruits for Canadian importers.

Among the top fresh fruit imports are bananas, followed by apples, watermelons, grapes, lemons, oranges, strawberries, pineapples, and avocados.

The United States is the main source of Canada’s fruit imports, with over 38% of the market share and a total value of imports from the U.S. of $2.8 billion Canadian dollars.  It is followed by Mexico which is a top supplier, especially for lemons, Peru, Guatemala, Chile, and South Africa. Costa Rica exported the most pineapple. Other countries that Canada imports fruit from are Colombia, Morocco, Vietnam, and Turkey.

Fresh Vegetables

Canada is an important producer of fresh vegetables, but the country also continues to import many categories that are in high demand. The main types of vegetables imported by Canada in 2022 were lettuce, which saw a big rise in imports and reached $715 million Canadian dollars, shallots and onions, cauliflower, and headed broccoli, cabbages, tomatoes, peppers, and spinach.

The leading countries that supply vegetables to Canada are the United States, with a share of 62% by value (over $2.5 billion Canadian dollars, Mexico, China, Guatemala, Peru, Spain, India, Honduras, Belgium, Ecuador, and Costa Rica.

The United States holds the record for potatoes and lettuce, while Mexico supplies Canada with tomatoes, onions, and peppers.
Canada is also a mushroom importer, even though imported volumes steadily decreased, reaching 9,778 tons in 2022. The top suppliers of mushrooms are the U.S., China, South Korea, Italy and France.

Seeds, Nuts, Crustaceans, and…. kale

Canadian imports of nuts, seeds, and, also dried and dehydrated fruits are also high. In this case, Mexico is the biggest supplier of these kinds of products, from figs, nuts, frozen or dried.

The country’s aquatic products market is extremely well-developed. The internal production is supplemented with imports of crustaceans, mollusks, and aquatic invertebrates and the major food suppliers for these are Vietnam and South Korea.

Health foods are also gaining traction and a surprisingly popular vegetable in Canada is kale. The green leaf plant known for its health benefits saw high demand, the country being among the top ones worldwide in terms of demand. China represents a major supplier of kale not only for Canada but for the whole world.


Coffee is part of the morning routine of almost every Canadian and continues to grow in popularity. The overall Canadian coffee import volume experienced an average annual growth rate of +3.5% between 2012 and 2022. Nonetheless, the trend exhibited occasional fluctuations in specific years.
The most requested were the whole bean category, coffee husks, and substitutes. Besides coffee, Canada imported from Brazil tea and vanilla beans.
The main suppliers of coffee for Canada are Colombia, Brazil and Guatemala, with Colombia recording the highest growth in volumes.

Solid trade partnership with the United States

A significant portion of trade between Canada and the United States in the agricultural sector is characterized by intra-industry trade, where both countries exchange various products within specific sectors. In the grains and feeds sector, this involves a wide range of processed items, such as retail dog and cat food, dough mixes, baked goods, breakfast cereals, and uncooked pasta. Outside of grains and feeds, beef and pork are prominent examples of intra-industry trade.

In 2022, products in the categories of grains, fruits, vegetables, meat, and related items constituted a substantial 65.8 percent of Canada’s food imports from the U.S.  Leading Canadian imports included corn ($1.3 billion), retail dog or cat food ($1.1 billion), pork ($832 million), and beef and veal ($811 million).

In November 2018, the governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) as a replacement for NAFTA. USMCA officially took effect on July 1, 2020. Generally, USMCA preserves NAFTA’s provisions for tariff- and quota-free trade in nearly all agricultural products traded between the United States and Canada. Additionally, it opens up broader market opportunities for U.S. exports of dairy, poultry, and egg products to Canada.

Throughout the CUSTA-NAFTA-USMCA era, agricultural trade between Canada and the United States has shown consistent growth. Between 1988 (the last year before CUSTA was implemented) and 2021, both U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and agricultural imports from Canada expanded at a steady compound annual rate of 7.9 percent.

Three food importers and distributors from Canada:

1. Gordon Food Service

Address: 1700 Cliveden Avenue, Delta
Phone: 0016045290700
Top products imported/distributed: Fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, pasta, frozen products

2. Sunopta

Address: 2233 Argentia Road, Suite 401, Mississauga
Phone: 0019058219669
Top products imported: Organic fruits and vegetables

3. Toppits

Address: 301 Chrislea Road, Vaughan
Phone: 0019058508900
Top products imported: Fish & Seafood

To get access to a list of more than 1,000 active food importers and distributors from Canada, you can access one of the BestFoodImporters databases.

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