It has been two years since Paul Schockman moved with Niels-Peter Klapwijk from the Netherlands to Canada. There, they started working at the greenhouse giant, Nature Fresh Farms. We asked the Sales Office Manager about the most important developments in the American market.
"In general, the demand for vegetables is ever-increasing. Besides this, there is a clear trend developing. More and more foodservice and retail chains are making a move from open field to greenhouse vegetables. The most recent example of this is Wendy’s. In 2019, they will use greenhouse-grown tomatoes instead of those cultivated outside", says Paul.
"The most common reason for this the more consistent supply. Part of the reason for this constant supply is that the increasingly extreme weather conditions that continue to develop have less influence on greenhouse cultivation. Sustainability is another reason. This sustainability includes the smarter use of land and water."
Revenue doubled in two years
"All in all, this has been a positive development for us. We are, literally and figuratively, picking the fruits of our labor. In the past two years, we have managed to double our revenue. We are also not planning on taking it any easier over the next two", says Paul.
"You can see this in our plans for the farming side of the business. We have 45 acres (18 ha) of lit tomato cultivation in Delta (Ohio, USA). This year we also have 32 acres (13 ha) of lit cultivation in Leamington (Ontario, Canada). The first tomatoes from this greenhouse will be harvested at the end of June."
"After that, in 2020, we will add another 32 acres (13 ha) of lit tomatoes in Canada. This will bring the total acreage to 64 acres (26 ha). These tomatoes will be sorted and packaged in a new 14,500m2, state-of-the-art, packing warehouse", he explains.
Tomato growng in Ohio
"We are not only busy expanding our activities in Canada. We are also doing so in Mexico. We have engaged in an extensive cooperation with Bell Pepper Lovers. This is besides the other parnerships we already have. We are building a 15 acre (6 ha) high-tech greenhouse in Lagos de Moreno (Jalisco, Mexico). Here, we will harvest the first bell peppers in July/August", Paul continues.
"We have also noticed that the demand for organic products is continually increasing. We are playing in on this. We are going from 15 acres (6 ha) to 30 acres (12 ha) of organic bell peppers this coming season. In 2020, we will expand further and are also going to grow other products organically."
The new plants in the greenhouse in Leamington
"In recent years, we have also found some nice novelties on our Discovery Centre. These are not only new items such as the tomberry. Often, we also discover improved versions of existing products. These include cocktail, beef, and trussed tomatoes", says the Sales Office Manager.
Greenhouse vegetable season
After a hectic four weeks, this company's greenhouses have been fully planted. "At the end of this month, we begin production with mini-cucumbers. A week later, the regular cucumbers will follow. At the end of February, we will be in full cucumber and mini-cucumber production", says Niel.
"We expect the first block/mini bell peppers in the first week of March. And at the end of March, the first organic block/mini bell peppers. The first unlit tomatoes are expected to be ready at around 15 March. The, from the last week in March; we are in full production on the whole area."
"The greenhouse vegetable acreage has increased slightly this season, compared to previous years. We have seen a considerable increase in acreage with, especially, the mini-cucumbers. As I see it now, the acreage of bell peppers and is the same. It is the acreage of cucumbers that has increased", Niels continues.
"There is also a lot of expansion that is going to happen during the course of the season. These are mainly projects that will use growth lights. These are needed for the year-round production of tomatoes and cucumbers. Currently, there is a lot of construction taking place around cannabis cultivation. This detracts from the expansion of greenhouse vegetable cultivation", he concludes.