Supplies of organic vegetables continue to remain steady as they meet pressures on demand.
Ray Wowryk, director of business development with Leamington, ON-based Nature Fresh Farms says it is now in full production on organic cucumbers in Ontario, including the Long English and Mini Salad variety. Within the next few weeks, the company will begin offering organic tomatoes and colored bell peppers from its Leamington greenhouse. “Up until recent weeks, supply has been erratic in locations such as Mexico. However, it seems to have stabilized now with fewer gaps,” says Wowryk. “The inability to import offshore organic peppers and cucumbers from Israel and Spain due to COVID-19 and logistic challenges have placed additional pressure on overall availability this winter.”
Pandemic-related logistics challenges in importing offshore organic peppers and cucumbers put additional pressure on availability this winter.
Organic production for Nature Fresh runs from February through to November in Leamington. The company has production in Mexico in addition to its Canadian production to support customer demand.
Organics associated with eating at home
Meeting these supplies is heavier demand. “Demand exceeds overall supply this winter, so we are not seeing any competition. Most growers and suppliers are just meeting demand, so there is not necessarily one market competing against the other for dominance,” says Wowryk. Going hand in hand with this of course is the increased interest organic produce has seen since the start of the pandemic. “It has boosted organic sales. Organic food is strongly associated with eating at home which we’ve seen surge significantly as customers spend more time at home during isolation and quarantine,” says Wowryk.
Yet, despite that interest, costs, particularly those around greenhouse production, remain a challenge. “We’re seeing material costs go up and the ability to access materials like packaging and growing materials is more difficult due to logistic issues globally,” says Wowryk. “In addition, labor costs rising will continue to be the challenge over the years to come and from that, increases the need for companies to become more innovative in automation and robotics to circumvent the lack of accessible workforce.”
Nature Fresh Farms will introduce more snacking tomatoes over the next two years.
Looking ahead, while the company is focusing on its core commodities, it will introduce more snacking tomatoes over the next two years. It’s also expanding its compostable packaging and introducing alternatives to plastic.