The Edmonton Metropolitan Region’s food and agriculture sector has deep roots and is home to both highly-developed and blossoming industries. The region hosts the entire sector value chain including high-quality primary production, a cluster of processing plants, globally-connected logistics, and a supplementary manufacturing sector.
The Edmonton Metropolitan Region is located on the Canadian Prairies, among the most productive agricultural lands on the planet. And 35% of Alberta’s best agricultural land is right here in our region. It’s one of the reasons we’re part of Canada’s plant protein supercluster.
Check out our fact sheet for more information about food and agriculture in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region.
Agriculture represents the largest use of land in the region, with roughly 1.7 million acres of farms covering 80% of the land. Conditions in the region are well-suited for grains, oilseeds, pulses, cannabis, hemp, and livestock production. The region has been making strides in diversifying its agriculture industry, turning to cannabis and hemp as new areas of focus. The Edmonton Metropolitan Region is one of the few locations in the world that has never experienced a region-wide crop failure.
A well-integrated transportation system connects local farms and businesses on a regional, national, and international scale. Because of Canada’s commitment to trade, free trade agreements help ease global exporting. In 2016, Alberta exported approximately $10 billion in agri-food products. Almost all Canadian agricultural air traffic to Asia routes through the Edmonton International Airport due to its 24-hour freight services and shortest-in-Canada flight times.
The region is prime for milling operations as well as further processing food and feed ingredients given its direct access to feedstocks.
To support booming primary production, a network of opportunities has developed around agriculture.
Farming requires a lot of specialized equipment, generating a need for local manufacturing. In 2016, the value of machinery owned and leased by Canadian farms was more than $31 billion.
Our strength in food and agriculture has lead to growth and innovation in the machinery manufacturing sector and more revolutionary farming approaches. Local experts are creating world-class air seeders, advanced spraying systems, precision GPS seeding technologies, and harvesting machinery, to name a few.
With an established strength in primary production, the Edmonton Metropolitan Region is diversifying its crop yield and focusing on the new international demand for cannabis and hemp products. We are sowing the seeds of opportunity with forward-thinking laws, ample farmland, and dedicated research and development. Cannabis and hemp have huge potential given widespread demand and the range of possible byproducts.
New cannabis laws allow the industry to harvest cannabis for cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) extraction and other medicinal and recreational uses. The region is now home to 4 licensed producers.
Alberta is the 2nd largest producer of hemp in North America. In 2017, there were 45,000 acres of hemp grown in the province, benefiting from the region’s advantageous growing conditions.
Hemp can be used for textiles, fuel, personal care, pharmaceuticals, and food and beverage. It is not only a profitable, exportable commodity – it can also serve as an input for other sectors within the regional economy, bringing prosperity in more ways than one.
In 1996, Angela Santiago and her father, Jacob van der Schaaf, decided it was time to test out a big idea for little potatoes. The family business got to work cultivating little, nutritious, flavourful spuds that cook in no time.
Since humble beginnings of testing the market and washing batches of potatoes in a bathtub, the growth of The Little Potato Company has been anything but little. By 2000, Angela and Jacob bought their first plant with modified equipment to handle the specialized needs of Creamer potatoes. Within 4 years they had expanded production in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region.
Aurora Cannabis is a medical cannabis company based in the region. Aurora Sky, the company’s 800,000-square-foot high-tech greenhouse, is the largest cannabis production facility in the world. The facility is strategically located next to the Edmonton International Airport (EIA) for easy international transportation. Aurora also takes advantage of prime office space in downtown Edmonton.