While exports like softwood lumber, oil and aircraft may routinely grab the headlines, expect romance to take top billing on February 14, Valentine’s Day.
As its closest neighbour Canada is well-positioned to benefit from Americans’ penchant for romance – last year the U.S. National Retail Federation (NRF) estimated America’s consumers would spend $US18.2 billion to celebrate the day.
Canadian diamond exports set to dazzle
With more couples getting engaged on Valentine’s Day than any other day of the year, Canadian diamonds are set to dazzle. With a reputation for quality, particularly when it comes to colour, Canada produces colourless or near colourless rough [uncut] diamonds, says Tom Ormsby, Head of External and Corporate Affairs for De Beers Canada.
“With almost half the world’s cut and polished diamonds sold in the United States, we have heard on many occasions how that close physical proximity to the Canadian diamonds has created an additional emotional connection to the purchase,” says Ormsby.
Meanwhile an awareness in certain Asian countries such as China and Japan regarding the connection between the diamond mines in the Northwest Territories and the Northern Lights has started to develop into another growth area, again because of the additional emotional connection with the diamonds from that part of our country, adds Ormsby.
De Beers Canada makes up to 10 per cent of its Canadian production available for sale to qualified local cutting and polishing businesses. The balance is sold to global customers with the majority based in India, which now cuts and polishes approximately 80 per cent of the world’s rough diamonds. They in turn distribute to their customer base around the world, he says.
In its September 2016 Socio-Economic Impact Report De Beers Canada reported $1.5 billion in gross export revenues for Canada.
Flower exports on Valentine’s Day
But no country produces everything on the must-have Valentine’s Day list: case in point, the ubiquitous rose. While Canada’s floriculture industry racks up $420-million in exports to the U.S. – including flowers like gerberas, tulips and chrysanthemums – it doesn’t grow nearly enough roses for the local market or for export. In 2015 Statistics Canada recorded the country produced 5.3 million stems while imported roses from Colombia and Ecuador numbered more than 11-million dozen rose stems and rose buds in 2016.
This is also the time of year when a few Hershey’s Kisses will go a long way! According to the National Confectioners Association 94 per cent of Americans say they want to receive chocolate or candy for Valentine’s Day.
While Canada does export some chocolate – $1.5 billion – it ranks 7th in the world behind European countries like Germany and Belgium who combined export just under 30 per cent of the world’s chocolates. The vast majority of Canada’s chocolate exports in 2016 – more than $US1.4 billion – were to the U.S. In 2016 there were 327 manufacturers of chocolate and chocolate confectionery in Canada, according to Statistics Canada and the average household spent $225 on candies and chocolates in 2015.
Top markets for Canadian wine exports
A glass or two of wine – particularly sparkling wine – adds ambience to special-occasion meals, like those enjoyed on Valentine’s Day. Canadians enjoyed 16 million litres of sparkling wines in 2014/2015.
Although in terms of global wine production Canada represents only 0.5 per cent, the country is the world’s most consistent producer of icewine. According to the Canadian Vinters Association, in 2016 icewine represented 24.2 per cent of total export value ($19.4 million) and 0.5 per cent of export volume (336,355 litres).
China is the top market for Canadian ice wine accounting for 33.5 per cent by value and 47 per cent by volume, followed by the U.S. (31.6 per cent by value and 26 per cent by volume) and South Korea (12 per cent by value and 8 per cent by volume).
Music and romance
However, as those in the path of Cupid’s arrow shop for St. Valentine’s Day goods we can expect that Canada’s singing superstars will be enjoying an annual boost to their incomes too. Some of the most romantic songs of all time are by Canadian artists – think Céline Dion’s blockbuster Titantic theme My heart will go on; Shania Twain’s You’re still the one and Bryan Adams’ (Everything I do) I do it for you.
As Shakespeare famously said: If music be the food of love, play on.