indicatorThe Owl

Thanks for the grub!

A quick overview of Alberta’s agricultural sector

By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 12 February 2024 2 min read

Today is Canada Agriculture Day so we are taking a look at Alberta’s agricultural sector and the important role it plays in the provincial economy and in addressing global food security.

International exports

At $17.7 billion, exports from the agri-food sector* accounted for 10% of the value of Alberta’s international merchandise exports in 2023. If we exclude oil and gas extraction and petroleum refining sectors, its share rises to 38%.

Alberta exports the third largest amount of agricultural products in the country after Ontario and Saskatchewan.

Alberta is the largest producer of barley in Canada and the second largest producer of wheat and canola (after Saskatchewan). The province is also the largest beef producer. 

Gross domestic product

In 2022, the primary agriculture sector generated $6.8 billion in real GDP and the food and beverage manufacturing generated $4.2 billion.

The agri-food sector’s contribution to Alberta’s economic output** is larger than, for example, the information and cultural industries sector, the accommodation and food services sector; the utilities sector; and the arts, entertainment and recreation sector.


As of 2022, there were 75,000 people employed in primary agriculture and food and beverage manufacturing in Alberta or about 3.1% of all employment in Alberta that year. The provincial average masks a high degree of variation across regions.  For example, in the Camrose-Drumheller economic region, primary agriculture represents about 10% of total employment. 


In 2023, food manufacturing*** in Alberta generated about $2 billion a month (or $24 billion annualized) in revenue, or over 23% of the province’s manufacturing sales. Alberta has the third largest food and beverage manufacturing sector in the country after Ontario and Quebec.

Check out these tips from the ATB Agriculture Team that will be key for farmers and ranchers preparing for the next ten years.

*Includes crop and animal production, support activities for crop and animal production, food manufacturing, and beverage manufacturing (NAICS codes 111, 112, 1151/2, 311, and 312. 

**GDP in current dollars in 2020 (most recent year available for accurate by industry calculations). Based on the above industry definition, the sector’s share was 3.4% that year. 

***Based on January through November 2023 (most recent data). Beverage manufacturing data for Alberta are not available from Statistics Canada due to confidentiality requirements.

Answer to the previous trivia question: The Suez Canal officially opened on November 17, 1869

Today’s trivia question: How many farms are there in Alberta?

Food manufacturing sales have been on an upward trend in Alberta

Food manufacturing sales have been on an upward trend in Alberta

Economics News

Subscribe and get a quick daily snapshot of what’s happening in Alberta’s economy

Need help?

Our Client Care team will be happy to assist.

Chat now
ATB Virtual Assistant
The ATB Virtual Assistant doesn't support landscape mode. Please tilt your device vertically to portrait mode.