New links in Ontario’s agri-food supply chain

This spring, a brand new grain export terminal at the Port of Hamilton opens its doors to begin accepting product from Ontario farms. The state-of-the-art $50 million G3 Canada Ltd. terminal will create necessary transportation capacity to help Ontario producers deliver their corn, wheat and soybeans to markets around the globe.

The Port of Hamilton is already home to two other grain export terminals (Parrish & Heimbecker and Richardson International), and one of Canada’s largest oilseed processors (Bunge). These terminals are part of a growing agri-food hub at the Port of Hamilton, which includes everything from flour milling, to liquid bulk storage, to biodiesel production.

“We’ve had $200 million in agri-food investment in recent years, but we truly believe this is just the beginning,” said Ian Hamilton, HPA’s President & CEO. “The opportunity for the Port to help drive a regional agri-food cluster in Southern Ontario is enormous.”

The opportunity begins with Canada’s golden reputation for quality. Markets around the world are focused on food security; and populations are growing in size and consumer sophistication. Canada’s agri-food products have an exceptional brand reputation globally as a safe, sustainable source of high-quality food commodities and processed products. This consideration was key in the decision by G3 Canada Ltd. and its international ownership group to choose Hamilton when looking to enhance its network of reliable global supply chains.

In addition to Canada’s brand power, efficient transportation can offer a competitive advantage and help to develop dynamic food clusters in cities like Hamilton. And Hamilton is building momentum: the sector is already responsible for $1 billion of economic activity within the city. The Hamilton Port Authority has been a major driver of this growth, attracting $200 milllion in investment, and 14 agri-food sector tenants. The Port is now looking at increasingly higher-value, more specialized products and services, such as cold storage, specialized warehousing, rail transload facilities, and advanced processing.

Governments are also contributing in the form of strategic and targeted investments in agri-food cluster development. The Government of Ontario, through its Jobs and Prosperity /Food and Beverage Fund, has recently invested $5 million in a new Parrish & Heimbecker flour mill, under construction at the Port of Hamilton. This strategic investment is helping to create much-needed milling capacity in Ontario, and helping to fill a critical gap in the value chain from bulk commodities through to processed consumer goods.

One of the Port’s strongest allies in building a robust agri-food cluster is the City of Hamilton. The City’s Economic Development division has identified agri-food as one of the municipality’s primary areas of opportunity and action in the coming years. The City’s team has successfully attracted a number of high-profile food processors, including Canada Bread and Maple Leaf. The Port and the City have worked together on market research to explore the potential demand for cold storage warehousing, customs pre-clearance and other services, to continue to make Hamilton an attractive destination for agri-food companies looking to expand. “The agri-food cluster remains a vital component of the city’s economic base, and partnering with the Hamilton Port Authority, exploring options to expand infrastructure to support the sector, is a welcome opportunity,” said Norm Schleehahn, the City’s manager of business development.

“We expect the momentum in agri-food to continue, and we’re doing our part by making the strategic investments in the Port that these companies are looking for,” said the Port Authority’s Ian Hamilton.

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