By most accounts it seems as if we are finally heading out of recession. But that doesn’t mean we are close to seeing the economic turnaround that many have been waiting for.
At the end of August, Statistics Canada reported that gross domestic product contracted at a 3.4-per-cent annualized rate during this year’s second quarter, compared to a 6.1-per-cent shrinkage in the first quarter. That meant that Canada’s economy grew 0.1 per cent in June, for the first time since last July, officially signalling the end of recession. Predictions by the Bank of Canada are that in the third quarter we will begin to see modest growth.
But the indicators are mixed. Corporate profits, for instance, fell 11 per cent over the last quarter, and exports of goods and services dropped 5.2 per cent. Yet personal income grew slightly, after declining 0.9 per cent in the first quarter, and consumer spending on goods and services climbed 0.4 per cent.
So where does this leave the food and beverage industry? Although perhaps not as hard hit as other industries, many food businesses saw declines over the past year, making it necessary to evaluate all aspects of their operations. For those that have continued to grow, success has often been a matter of getting back to basics, focusing on core strengths and seizing strategic opportunities in the marketplace. Those are just some of the insights that came out of this year’s Executive Roundtable (see page 26), which again this year features comments from industry leaders in a range of different food sectors. For more on how Canada’s food industry has fared over this past year, see our annual ranking of the Top 100 food and beverage processors, starting on page 38.
Finally, tough economic times are often the source of innovation and real leadership in the industry. One company that has continued to demonstrate this for the past 20 years, and which we’re highlighting for its ongoing efforts and inspiring story, is Crofters Food Ltd. The Parry Sound, Ont.-based company is now the largest organic jam manufacturer in North America, and last month was recognized by the federal government’s National Research Council of Canada as a Canadian Innovation Leader for its novel approach in the production of organic food. To read more about Crofters see page 66.