Firm growing trend for Canadian greenhouse growers in U.S. market

General Manager George Gilvesy confirms that “the North East of the U.S. is of strategic importance to Canadian greenhouse growers, with 120 million people within a 10 hour drive and a good logistics network.”

Opportunities, however, do not come without difficulties. “It’s always a combination of factors. On the one hand, you have consumers looking for low cost, with Mexico taking that niche, but sometimes there's also a preference for local, especially when field produce is available in July and August,” says George.

Regarding the upcoming competition from urban farming, George explains that “it is still quite new, and the production regime will be challenging on a long-term basis in aspects such as disease management. Growing multiple crops in a smaller farm also entails agronomical challenges.”

He additionally explains that “the biggest costs come from energy and labour, although this is something that I’m confident our members can deal with by managing their cost structure.”

Overall, they have indeed proved to be successful at this, as Ontario’s greenhouse growers have been expanding at a rate of about 5% a year for the last 5 years, and are expected to reach 2,500 acres by January, compared to the 1,700 acres of 2009.

Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers is an organisation representing 218 growers, with approximately 48 marketers. Fiona McLean, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, assures that “based on our distribution, we export more than 70% to the U.S., mostly to the New York area, which means people can have their product within 8-12 hours.”

According to Fiona, the organisation’s producers all contribute to the supply of the area’s retailers. All products are food safety-certified by third parties, with a guarantee of full traceability. “I believe the keys to success against our competitors are quality, food safety and how the product is grown. Given the opportunity to choose, those aspects make a great difference and make the retailer more likely to buy it.”

For more information:
Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers
Tel: (519) 326-2604

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