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Canada: Dutch greenhouse builders benefit from year round veggie demand

In Canada, the expansion of greenhouse horticulture is developing rapidly. Havecon's Henk Verbakel is optimistic about the opportunities for his company in the coming years.


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First Havecon project 
Havecon has been active in the US since 2009 and realized their first horticultural project in Canada in 2011. The company focuses on the development, manufacturing and realization of larger greenhouse projects. Hereby Havecon works closely with the Voorwinden Group, which also co-owns Havecon.

Year-round cultivation 
Havecon's director Henk Verbakel sees a development towards more year-round vegetable production under glass in Canada. In this perspective, supplemental lighting of crops such as tomatoes and good climatic controls for growing peppers is essential. Horticultural entrepreneurs choose to build larger new greenhouse complexes to produce as efficiently as possible with this technology incorporated.

Food from own region
By marketing vegetables year-round, growers can satisfy the consumers’ demand for food from their own region. "So far many vegetables were imported from Mexico. More and more Canadians are questioning this. Vegetables from one’s own country offers more guarantees with respect to food safety and quality. Consumers are willing to pay more for it. This growing demand stimulates the development of domestic horticulture"

Great Northern Project in Ontario
In the meantime Havecon has built nine greenhouses in Canada. The first project - Great Northern in Kingsville, Ontario - was realized in 2011: a horticultural complex of 5.5 hectares. These greenhouses produce tomatoes year-round. Verbakel says that completing that project was the successful starting point for the presence of Havecon on the Canadian market. "It was the first greenhouse in the region where tomatoes are grown year-round, so with the help of supplemental lighting. That generated a lot of publicity and our company still benefits from it."

Gas problems
Verbakel also mentions several hurdles. Obtaining work permits for Dutch staff used in the construction of greenhouses sometimes takes a lot of time. As well as this, the infrastructure in the area of gas and electricity is not regulated very well everywhere in Canada. This occasionally causes problems for Havecon clients. Verbakel: "It happens that investors have everything in place from finance to marketing but that no natural gas can be delivered at the site. In this respect things are regulated better in the Netherlands."



From Canada to US
Despite these barriers, Verbakel is optimistic. There are opportunities in the country for Havecon, but also for other Dutch companies active in horticulture. "The demand for sustainable, domestically produced food is increasing. I note that Canadian growers are increasingly starting a second location in the US to also meet the demand for local vegetables there."

Source: AgroBerichten Buitenland


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