Supermarkets have lost market share to other retail food outlets in Canada during the past three years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In a 52-page report on the Canadian retail market the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service said the food market share for grocery stores/supermarkets dropped from 67% in 2009 to a projected 63.5% in 2011.

Filling in the gap, the market share of mass merchandisers rose from 10.6% in 2009 to 11.7% in 2011, while the market share for drug stores rose from 5.9% in 2009 to 7.2% in 2011.

In total, the USDA said Canada"s 33 million consumers generated $451 billion in retail sales in 2011, a 4% gain from 2010. The report said food sales accounted for about 19% of total retail sales and were projected to reach $88 billion in 2011.

The report said Canadian-based retailers Loblaw Co., Ltd., The Empire Company Ltd. (Sobeys) and Metro Inc., together still account tor 43% of retail food sales in Canada.

Loblaw has 1,027 stores across the country and 20% share of the food market, the report saie. Meanwhile, Sobeys market share is 13% but with more stores (1,334). Metro Inc. accounts for 9% of the food market and operates 564 food stores to go along with 257 drug and convenience stores in Ontario and Quebec, according to the report.

A fast rising retailer is Walmart Canada, according to the USDA. The company"s market share is 6%, but food sales for the mass merchandiser have grown from $130 million in 2006 to $5.2 billion in 2011.

Imports play a big role in the Canadian diet, the USDA report said. The agency said Centre for Food in Canada said imports represent 24% of total food sales. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the top imported food item for Canada, followed by fish products.

U.S. agricultural exports to Canada were a record $19 billion in 2011. The agency said U.S. products account for more than 60% of Canada"s total agricultural imports, with the 2011 value of U.S. exports up 5% compared with 2010. Top categories of U.S. exports to Canada include fresh vegetables ($1.7 billion), fresh fruit ($1.7 billion), snack foods ($1.6 billion), red meats ($1.9 billion), and processed fruits and vegetables ($1.2 billion).