Trends in Alberta Agri-Food Exports, No. 13 - Alberta Exports to the United States, 1988-2015

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 The United States (US) continues to be Alberta’s largest and most important export market for primary agriculture commodities (animals and crops) and value added processed products such as meats, other food products, animal feed and beverages.
  • Factors contributing to Alberta’s sustained growth in exports included fluctuation of the Canadian dollar relative to the US dollar and the two free trade agreements: the Canada - US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) implemented in 1989 and its successor North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) implemented in 1994.
  • Over the past 28 years (1988 - 2015), the US remained Alberta’s largest trading partner in terms of value. However, its share of Alberta’s total agri-food exports has been declining, from a record of 58 per cent in 2002 to 32 per cent in 2011 and 2012. The declining share of Alberta agri-food exports to the US was mainly offset by increased market share in China, Japan, Mexico and other emerging markets.
  • The US is Alberta’s largest market for value added products, while China, Japan, Mexico are still primarily markets for raw commodities (mainly grains and oilseeds). In the past ten years, 2006-2015, increased demand for crops and high commodity prices led to the shift from value added exports back to commodity exports. Substantially higher exports of grains and oilseeds, coupled with good prices, to markets other than the US contributed to its lower market share. However, in 2014 and 2015, higher exports of value added products such as beef, pork, french fries, animal feed and canola oil led to an increase in the US  market share to almost 40 per cent.
  • Historically, the US is the sole export market for Alberta's live cattle (non-purebred) and hogs, and accounted for 70 per cent of all beef exports in terms of quantity.
  • Overall, despite the decline in market share to the United States in recent years, exports to this market continued to grow, reaching $4.0 billion in 2015.
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Barbara Pekalski.
This document is maintained by Rita Splawinski.
This information published to the web on January 25, 2017.
Last Reviewed/Revised on January 14, 2019.