Through a trade relationship that generated $ 1.2 billion exports in 2013, Canada is the largest importer of Michigan food and agricultural products. Michigan’s geographical location in combination with the strong trade partnership between the United States and Canada helps facilitate Michigan food and agriculture exports to Canada.

Further, the United States and Canada have similar consumption patterns that make Canada an easier consumer market for Michigan companies to understand.  Michigan’s proximity to Canada increases ease of business through similar language, culture, and lifestyle. American products also have a competitive advantage over other exporting nations due to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Canadian per capita expenditure on food has increased significantly in the last decade and reached $2,080 in 2013. In 2016, per capita expenditure is expected to reach $2,171. The distribution of expenditure is continuing to change due to expansions in different market segments such as ethnic and healthy foods and decreases in meat consumption. This trend is expected to continue and is linked to growing concern for health consciousness in Canada. 

The changing needs of Canadian consumers are causing greater demands for healthy, natural, ethnic, and other specialty products.  Natural and specialty products are a part of a growing food industry trend worldwide because both domestic and international consumers want access to a variety of food product options.

In Canada, there are not enough suppliers to meet the growing demand for natural and specialty foods, causing buyers to look toward the U.S. to meet the needs of the growing market. Natural, gluten free, ethnic, specialty, healthy, GMO-free, and organic foods are all in high demand in Canada. Michigan food companies are perfectly positioned to help meet Canadian consumer demand for natural and specialty products.

Companies interested in reaching the Canadian market would benefit from an upcoming Focused Trade Mission to Canada for Specialty and Natural Products ,taking place September 9-10. Companies on the trade mission will travel to Toronto, Canada to meet with potential buyers and learn valuable market information. The trade mission is administered by the Food Export Association of the Midwest.

Food Export Association of the Midwest partners with the International Marketing Program at the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to help Michigan food industry businesses expand their international marketing scope by utilizing federal export assistance programs.

Companies interested in learning more about the International Marketing Program can visit, or contact Hannah Bollinger, at 517-284-5737 or For program updates, follow the International Marketing Program on Twitter and like the International Marketing Program on Facebook.

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