With a long history of agricultural roots, this industry continues to be an important pillar of the Grande Prairie economy and presents many emerging and complementary investment opportunities. The existing cluster of agriculture in the region is capitalized on with easy access to resources, markets, existing supply chains, and skilled labour. Making up 5% of Canada’s agriculture land, the Peace Country has a reputation for high-quality agricultural products.
Investment Opportunities Include:
- Oilseed and pulse processing
- Beverage manufacturing
- Meat product manufacturing
- Grain, fruit and vegetable processing
- Bakery and tortilla manufacturing
- Traditional agriculture
- Greenhouse and vertical agriculture
Location & Market Demand
Grande Prairie offers access to various markets through high-quality infrastructure and connectivity. Local companies will benefit from proximity to local demand for food production due to Grande Prairie’s large trade area of nearly 300,000 people, and strong local spending. Total retail spending for the trade area is $4.7 billion, with 34% of that spent on ‘groceries and convenience’.
The geographic location also provides a substantial amount of sunlight each year, with an average of 314 days with measurable sunshine, and above 2,200 hours of bright sunlight.
Three major local highway connect the City to the rest of Alberta and Canada, offering direct connections to Edmonton, British Columbia, the Northwestern Territories, and the Rocky Mountains. On an international level, Grande Prairie is located on the CANAMEX trade route, which connects Canada with both the United States and Mexico.
Grande Prairie’s rail connects it to the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert and the rest of Northern America to offer the most cost-effective way of shipping bulk goods out of the region and into export markets.
The Grande Prairie region is served by Canadian National Railway. High load capacity lines connect with the CN mainline at Hinton, linking Grande Prairie to the port of Vancouver, Prince Rupert and the rest of North America. In June of 2021, CN Rail announced an investment of $445 million dollars in Alberta to help meet demand and future needs of its customers. CN’s investment strategy is focused on creating a more fluid and more efficient network, and encouraging the use of rail for long haul transportation, leading to reduced emissions.
Grande Prairie is the closest municipality in Alberta to western shipping ports, offering a competitive advantage in getting bulk product to Asian markets faster than from anywhere else in Alberta.
Side Group Rail provides rail reload and transportation services with seven facilities in the Peace Country. Managing broad inventories, Side Group Rail directs the movement of ½ billion dollars of goods annually from their Grande Prairie operations.
With the Grande Prairie region being one of the highest grain producers in western Canada, Richardson Pioneer Limited built a new high throughput grain elevator in Huallen, 35 kilometres west of Grande Prairie, and is expected to be operational in 2022. The new grain elevator will have storage capacity for 45,000 metric tonnes, capable of loading 150 cars through a loop track design.
Access to Raw Resources
Grande Prairie provides accessibility to reliable and cheap inputs necessary in the food processing industry complemented by competitive energy prices and a sustainable water supply. In addition, Grande Prairie has a strong reputation in its agricultural sector concentrated in canola, wheat, barley, alfalfa, dry field peas, oats, cattle, pig, and poultry.
- Dry Field Peas
In addition to the above benefits, greenhouse agriculture benefits from Grande Prairie’s substantial amount of sunlight per year. Since Grande Prairie has a strong reputation in its agricultural sector, a vertical expansion of its agriculture industry can benefit from the strong reputation.
Availability of Skilled Labour
The region boasts over 2,000 workers employed in agriculture, providing access to a skilled labour force for greenhouse agriculture. Farms and support services to farms industries have been within the 12 largest and fastest growing industries locally over the past five years. Demand for meat, beef, and poultry processing in Canada is expected to increase due to operators being classified as an essential business and meeting high weekly production capacity. Furthermore, according to EMSI’s job growth projections between 2020 and 2028, industrial butcher is projected to be one of the fastest-growing occupations in the Region.
Access to Research and Innovation
GPRC is a research and innovation hub in the community of Grande Prairie. With faculty, staff and student researchers active in a range of specialty areas—including renewable energy, sustainable systems, data analytics, community enhancement, and human health and wellness—GPRC has the expertise to support community initiatives and address persistent industry problems.
Advanced Microbiology and Genetics Laboratory
The College’s flagship research facility and home of the National Bee Diagnostic Centre (NBDC), GPRC’s advanced microbiology and genetics laboratory has the tools and resources to support research and diagnostics for a variety of industries across the agriculture and forestry sector (e.g.: animal nutrition and forage quality, crop and animal residues, pest entomology, and bioremediation). The laboratory is equipped with the following:
- Level 2 Containment Lab
- 5-room molecular suite
- Next Generation Sequencer
- Fluorescent microscopes
- Hybridization oven
Grande Prairie Regional College has partnered with Lakeland College and regional producer associations to revitalize the college’s agricultural research and training programs. Researchers specializing in smart agriculture, pollinator health, crop science, and other areas will be part of a province-wide research network, contributing innovative solutions for the regional agriculture and agrifood industry.
With research plots at Fairview Campus and its state-of-the-art microbiology laboratory in Beaverlodge, the college continues to expand its applied research capacity in agriculture.
Visit gprc.ab.ca/research for more information.