An invaluable national champion, Ted Bilyea has made vast and significant contributions to advancing Canada’s agri-food industry at home and around the world. Ted is an accomplished agricultural business leader and respected visionary who has opened new markets, pushed for innovation and advocated for trade policies for the entire agri-food industry and value-added sector, working across all major commodities.
Under Ted’s leadership, Maple Leaf Foods became Canada’s largest food exporter. His 34-year career included positions as president of Maple Leaf Foods International, and executive vice-president of Maple Leaf Foods Inc.
A pioneer in international trade, one of Ted’s greatest contributions was establishing Canadian pork as a preferred protein in Japan and making the first shipment of chilled pork from North America to Japan – an export market valued at $1.2 billion for the Canadian pork industry in 2017. In the aftermath of the 2003 BSE crisis, Ted saw an opportunity to use tracing systems to advance the beef industry’s interests in becoming a preferred supplier to foreign markets. His insight saw Canadian beef gain access to the Chinese market before U.S. beef.
Ted also made a positive impact on the crop sector. In the late 1970s, he was the primary architect of an alliance that secured the first shipment of Ontario-grown food soybeans to Japan. In the early 1980s, his vision created a collaboration between First Line Seeds and Canada Packers International to produce, export and market a food soybean variety from a grower in Canada to a processor in Japan.
After retiring from Maple Leaf Foods in 2005, Ted continues to leave a lasting legacy on the industry as a highly sought after consultant across the entire value chain. He’s called on by government leaders and food companies across Canada for his perspective on policy, the market and Canadian competitiveness, and is a valued advisor to many public and private agri-food companies in Canada, China and Japan.
Ted lends his strategic expertise to position the Canadian agri-food industry for success through his work on numerous boards and committees. He chaired the Canadian Agri-Food Marketing Council when it established an ambitious goal to increase Canadian agri-food exports to $20 billion by 2020 – a target they reached ahead of schedule. Ted also served as chair of the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute, facilitating forums and policy papers that captured the enthusiasm of leaders across the agri-food sector.
With an unwavering commitment to Canadian agriculture, Ted Bilyea stands with a select few who have a deep understanding of the entire agri-food sector and the key drivers for success. He continually pushes the entire industry to do better and work more collaboratively.