Québec biofood industry: gains in real GDP, employment and trade

Québec, January 26, 2018. – In 2016, the real gross domestic product (GDP) of Québec’s biofood industry, in constant dollars and at 2007 prices, totalled $23.4 billion, up 4.0% from 2015. The industry accounted for 7.4% of the real GDP of Québec’s overall economy, up 0.2 percentage points from 2015 (7.2%).  

From 2013 to 2016, the real GDP of the biofood industry rose by 9.0%, a higher growth rate than that of the Québec economy as a whole (+4.2%). Over this period, food services and drinking places (+14.6%); food, beverage and tobacco product manufacturing (+13.6%); food product wholesalers-distributors (+5.3%); agriculture, fishing, hunting and trapping (+3.8%); and food stores (+1.0%)—categorized together as the biofood industry—all saw an increase in their output and contributed to industry growth.

This information is drawn from the Profil sectoriel de l’industrie bioalimentaire au Québec, édition 2017, prepared jointly by the Institut de la statistique du Québec and the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec. This publication provides key data on the industry from 2013 to 2016, as well as detailed information by sector.

Growth in employment

In 2016, the biofood industry employed 497,800 workers, accounting for 12.0% of jobs in Québec. From 2013 to 2016, the industry created 12,300 new jobs, mainly in food and beverage stores (+9,900), food, beverage and tobacco product manufacturing (+3,100) and agriculture (+1,900).  Only food stores (-3,100) saw a decline in employment over that period.

Increased international trade

In 2016, in constant dollars, Québec’s biofood exports reached $8.2 billion, while imports were valued at $7.1 billion. Over the 2013-2016 period, the value of Québec’s trade hit a new record high every year: $11.7 billion in 2013, $13.6 billion in 2014, $14.4 billion in 2015 and $15.3 billion in 2016. Over the same period, exports (+$2.1 billion) and imports (+$1.5 billion) recorded an average annual growth of 10.6% and 8.0%, respectively.

Between 2013 and 2016, the United States and China both grew in importance among Québec’s main export markets. The share of exports to the United States rose from 61.4% to 70.6%, while that of China increased by 3.1 percentage points (4.1% to 7.2%). The European Union (8.9% to 5.8%) and Japan (7.3% to 5.8%) both saw their relative shares drop. Exports to the United States totalled $5.8 billion in 2016, ahead of China ($595.2 million), Japan ($480.4 million) and the European Union ($475.1 million).

Growth in value of agricultural output

From 2013 to 2016, the total value of agricultural output registered an average annual growth of 1.8% and increased by $543.3 million. In 2016, it reached $10.5 billion, divided between sales to other sectors ($8.3 billion), sales to other farms ($1.3 billion) and other sources of income ($0.9 billion). Expenses on agricultural inputs totalled $6.5 billion in 2016, up $199.9 million from 2013 ($6.3 billion), while total net farm income stood at $1.2 billion, up $97.8 million from 2013 ($1.1 billion).

From 2013 to 2016, agricultural sales to other sectors rose by $550.8 million. Crops (+$426.5 million) and livestock products (+$124.3 million) were behind the growth. Sales of oilseed and protein crops (+$134.6 million), vegetables (+$125.5 million) and maple products (+$89.5 million) led to a total crop production of $3.2 billion, while animal products (+$95.8 million) and cattle and calves (+$83.0 million) bumped animal production to $5.2 billion.


The Institut de la statistique du Québec produces, analyzes and disseminates official, objective and quality statistical information on various aspects of Québec society. It is responsible for carrying out all statistical surveys of general interest. The relevance of its work makes it a strategic ally for decision makers and all those wishing to learn more about Québec.

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