Who do we think we are? Canada's shifting demographics shape food demand

For decades, the average Canadian was of British, western European, or even American descent. Over time, most people’s idea of “average” has stayed the same, but the actual demographics have shifted, and in some ways, the change is quite dramatic.

Canadians are much older, more suburban, and more multicultural than ever. Instead of European influence, many new and first generation Canadians are of Asian descent, most notably from the Philippines, China, and India. Immigration is shifting from the Atlantic to the Pacific side of the country.

We’re also much older than we’d maybe like to admit, and these trends continue to shape food demand and will for the next few decades.

We ignore these shifts at our peril, says Darrell Bricker, with IPSOS Public Affairs.

Bricker says, in the interview below filmed at FarmTech ’18, while policy makers and head honchos tend to live in the Toronto/Ottawa/Montreal bubble, that’s not an accurate representation of Canadians. More new Canadians, where our population growth comes from, are settling in the west and living in the suburbs; they’re not staying in central Canada or in urban cores.

What does this shift in the average Canadian mean for agriculture? Consumer tastes are now more informed by Asian influence — less Yorkshire pudding, more curry — and if you want to serve more affluent markets, you need to pay attention to the older and much older generations.

From how many food marketers are selling to themselves instead of the wealthy, to a scaled-down version of population growth projections, Bricker joins RealAgriculture’s Debra Murphy for this discussion on how the agriculture industry needs to adapt to Canada’s changing demographic.

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