New report from Food Processing Skills Canada highlights cost of vacant jobs


Despite being the leading manufacturing sector employer in Canada (19.5% of all manufacturing jobs), food and beverage processors need 56,000 more people, or 20% of the current workforce, if the industry is to achieve 2025 growth targets.

Economic analysis estimates that a single unfilled position in the food and beverage processing industry could cost businesses as much as $190 per day in lost net revenue. Aggregated over the entire sector, losses from job vacancies total an estimated $8.5M in net revenue per day or if not resolved, $3.1B annually. These losses have a direct impact on the Canadian economy.

“Business development is incumbent on a strong and skilled workforce. For small to medium-sized operations like mine we cannot grow without skilled employees to drive innovation and productivity.” Lynn Rayner, Operations Manager, Acadian Supreme, Prince Edward Island.

At the Crossroad to Greatness confirms that there is tremendous potential in connecting Canadian job seekers with Canada’s more than 7,600 food and beverage processing business employers. Domestically, there is the requirement for a safe and consistent food supply. Globally, the demand for food will more than double by 2050 fueled by a growing population and an expanding middle class.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has proven that the Canadian food and beverage processing industry is a resilient and secure sector. In 2020, food and beverage processors retained 98% of their 2019 workforce which was well above the economy wide average of 91%. Consumers also recognize frontline food workers as essential workers that are committed to ensuring people have access to safe food. However, the research shows that recruitment and retention continues to be the number one workforce growth challenge for businesses, especially those located in rural and remote regions of the country.

“In 2020, the unemployment rate in Canada was 9.5%, up from 5.7% the previous year – we understand the serious impact COVID-19 has had on Canadians. More than ever, people need good jobs and the industry – especially small to medium-sized operations and employers in the meat and seafood sectors – need people,” said Jennefer Griffith, Executive Director, Food Processing Skills Canada.

Industry and stakeholders have made substantial investments in solving the labour crisis but there is more to do in developing talent pipelines and career pathways for job seekers. The research also provides important insights on how workforce strategies can better connect with underrepresented groups and attract younger generations.

Key Recommendations

  • Establish a national awareness and reputation program, and ensure the program has measurable targets and defined audiences. Utilize research and insights from this report to support meaningful stories that promote careers and job opportunities, in addition to communicating education to career pathways.
  • Offer Workplace Integrated Learning opportunities to students, especially in the skilled trades, through local educational institutions to provide job experiences and a bridge to future employment.
  • Offer onboarding and training in relevant languages for the workforce.
  • Collaborate with governments, unions, and training institutions to develop more post-secondary education programs aimed at producing food and beverage processing production workers, particularly in areas of the country where such programs are currently scarce or non-existent, such as Atlantic Canada.
  • Make investments in research and development and commercialization of new technologies, especially in uniquely Canadian products.
  • Develop more capacity within pre-arrival training programs like Food Processing Skills Canada’s Food Safety Employment Readiness Program which provides training to successfully support an individual in starting a new career in Canada’s food and beverage processing sector.
  • Map seasonal workforces in Canada to help seasonal food and beverage processors better target their recruitment for workers and help governments better understand labour availability and mobility.

To download the full report, At the Crossroad to Greatness – Key Insights & Labour Market Research About Canada’s Food and Beverage Processing Industry follow this link.

To watch the recorded webinar highlighting key findings from the report, please follow this link: At the Crossroad to Greatness – Webinar

This report is funded by Employment and Social Development Canada’s Sectoral Initiatives Program.

Food Processing Skills Canada is the food and beverage manufacturing industry’s workforce development organization. As a non-profit, located in Ottawa with representatives across Canada, the organization supports food and beverage manufacturing businesses in developing skilled and professional employees and workplace environments. The work of Food Processing Skills Canada directly and positively impacts industry talent attraction, workforce retention and employment culture. And through partnerships with industry, associations, educators and all levels of governments in Canada, the organization has developed valuable resources for the sector including the Food Skills LibraryTM, Canadian Food Processors InstituteTM, FoodCertTM and Labour Market Information Reports.