Canada's 'hidden' exports: Makeup, dog food and rubber

(Fotolia)

(Fotolia)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:27 PM ET

Canada is well known for exporting natural resources, but what about makeup and dog food?

Those are among two of the secret success stories of Canada's export market, the Conference Board of Canada says in a new report out Wednesday.

"The common perception is that Canada only does well at exporting natural resources. Very few people think of Canada as being a global player in the cosmetics industry or being competitive at manufacturing and exporting high-tech equipment or chemicals," economist Kristelle Audet with the Canadian Industrial Outlook said in a release. "However, they are among some of Canada's hidden export success stories -- it comes down to creating innovative products for niche markets."

The report highlights five industries in particular that do well. Although they are very different, the products all sell well in other countries, develop and market innovative products and establish an early presence in fast-growth markets.

Five little-known products exported from Canada, according to the Conference Board of Canada:

1. Cosmetics

Canada is the world's 10th largest exporter of cosmetic products and accounts for 3% of global cosmetics trade. Our competitiveness at exporting cosmetics rests on our proximity to the U.S. and on Canadian companies' ability to establish themselves at an early stage in fast-growth markets.

2. Pet food

Canadian exports account for 3.5% of global pet food trade, making us the world's 9th largest exporter. Like cosmetics, our competitiveness in pet food stems from our proximity to the U.S. market, and manufacturers' success at exporting premium brands to emerging markets. Another key factor behind Canadian pet food manufacturers' competitiveness in foreign markets is the "Made in Canada" advantage. Canada is globally recognized for producing high-quality food products in clean facilities.

3. Photonic devices

Canada is the world's 10th largest exporter of photonic devices. Those include such things as imaging and machine vision systems, 3D scanners, and light detection and ranging mapping and imaging systems. Our global competitiveness in this industry flows from industry clusters in central Canada, as well as highly specialized and innovative products.


Researchers at a North Carolina institute are using a 3D scanner to build structures where human cells can reproduce damaged tissue and organs. (Handout/QMI Agency)

4. Inorganic chemicals

Canada is the world's largest exporter of sodium chlorate, a chemical used as a bleaching agent in the pulp industry. It accounts for 98% of Canadian exports of inorganic chemicals and 75% of global trade for that product. Our global competitiveness rests on low electricity costs, ready access to fresh water supplies, and on our proximity to some of the world's largest pulp manufacturing plants.


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5. Synthetic rubber

Of Canadian exports of synthetic rubber, 80% consist of butyl rubber, a key ingredient in making tires. Canada is the world's 5th largest exporter of butyl rubber, accounting for almost 15% of global trade. Exports of butyl rubber come from a single plant in Sarnia, Ont., and are supported by the petro-chemical industrial cluster located in the area and our proximity to the U.S. market. However, our global competitiveness is currently being challenged by other countries, both in the North American and Asian markets.


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