When Canadian shoppers peruse the produce aisle in their local supermarket, they can choose from a wide variety of vegetables and fruits of which many come from Mexico or the southern US, especially in the winter months. However, in the past few years, more and more Canadian vegetable growers have started to respond to Canadians’ increasing appetite for locally grown vegetables. From 2012 to 2016, the Canadian greenhouse industry grew by an impressive 17% and the total of harvested greenhouse vegetables increased from 13.3 million square meters to 15.6 million square meters.
Ontario – home of the growing greenhouse industry
While there are also greenhouses in British Columbia and Quebec, the industry is largely concentrated in Ontario with the Windsor-Essex area in southern Ontario home to more than half of Canada's greenhouses. Furthermore it accounts for about 80% of the country’s overall output in greenhouse vegetables. According to Joe Sbrocchi, general manager of the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association, greenhouse vegetable acreage in Ontario was close to 3,100 at the beginning of 2019, with more and more growers also deploying organic production methods. As of 2019, organic production is estimated to make up about 10 % of acreage in Ontario.
Tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers locally grown in Canada
In 2016, 36.5% of the acreage was used for tomatoes, 34.9% for peppers and 28.6% for cucumbers. Tomatoes were also the number one vegetable (technically fruit) by value, worth $613 million in 2017.
While Canadians are increasingly interested in buying local produce, Canadian greenhouse growers produce more than is needed for the domestic market, and also export to the US, Japan and other international markets
On the lookout for innovative solutions
The greenhouse sector is largely automated, with environments that control heat, water and nutrients as well as lighting. With increasing costs notably for seasonal and permanent employees (In 2018, Ontario’s minimum wage rose from $11.40 to $14 an hour), greenhouse growers are trying to cut costs to improve margins. The industry is therefore always on the lookout for innovative solutions such as lighting and growing systems that reduce production costs and increase efficiency and yield.
Are you curious about this market opportunity and would like to learn more?
Does your company offer innovative growing solutions? We would be more than happy to meet with you to discuss how we can support your successful market entry. Sign up for one of the upcoming country consulting days today or get in contact with our Consultant USA & Canada, Annina Bosshard.