Canada's food distribution sector represents the final link in the food supply chain from food producers and processors to consumers. It is a large and complex sector that includes supermarkets, grocery stores, restaurants and fast food operations, as well as the wholesalers, distributors and brokers that supply them. There are about 24 thousand retail stores and close to 63 thousand foodservice establishments in Canada, with total consumer sales of $131 billion in 2005. The sector employed 1.4 million people and accounted for 4% of Canada's total GDP.
Canada's food distribution sector is made up of the food retail and foodservice sub-sectors. The food retail sector sold about $71 billion of food and non-alcoholic beverages in 2005. Approximately 73% was distributed through traditional food stores that include both the large chains (e.g., Loblaws, Sobeys and Metro) and independent grocers. A growing portion (27%) of food sales are coming from other formats, such as, drug stores, warehouse clubs (e.g., Costco), mass merchandisers (e.g., Wal-Mart), dollar stores and convenience stores.
The foodservice sub-sector had sales of about $45 billion in 2005. The majority of sales (78%) comes from commercial establishments including full service restaurants (e.g., Swiss Chalet, Eastside Mario's, etc.) and quick/counter-service restaurants (e.g., McDonald's, Burger King, etc.). The balance is from non-commercial foodservice establishments that include hotels, institutions (e.g., hospitals), recreational facilities such as theatres and arenas, vending operations, and foodservice establishments in department stores.
The food distribution sector interacts directly with consumers and helps to interpret and convey consumer trends and demands to the rest of the food value chain. As such, it helps to address consumer concerns in areas such as food safety, quality, tracking and tracing, innovation, variety, value and convenience, in the ongoing evolution of food products and the agri-food industry.
For more information, please contact John Brown.