The global greenhouse industry is challenged every day by rising energy costs, water scarcity, and labor shortages. This is also happening in Canada, where the horti industry, despite everything, is booming. Darryl Di Milo from Paskal has been active in the sector for over 20 years, and he has seen a lot of water going under the bridge. "I have been working in the Canadian horticulture industry for over 20 years," says Darryl Di Milo from Paskal. "Initially, I studied horticulture at the University of Guelph and then worked as a grower for 5-6 years." After that, he was recruited by Koppert Biological Systems, and he worked there for ten years. "Over that time, many invaluable things happened. I became an expert in crop protection, met many great people, and built some lifelong relationships, to name a few," he points out. "After all, you gain a lot of experience when working in a role like that." Then, in 2018, he joined Paskal.
Over this time, he witnessed firsthand the evolution of the Canadian horti industry. "In 2000, the industry started getting increasingly high-tech," he points out. "Then, around five years ago, it just exploded." Darryl believes that such a sudden explosion is mainly due to the increased demand for high-quality, local produce worldwide, "especially if this is greenhouse grown."
More with less
The fact that Darryl saw it all has helped him and Paskal better navigate the constantly changing waters of horticulture. "Crop labor is constantly a huge challenge, but this has always been the case for growers who strive to be as efficient as possible," he points out. "So, I always take care of showing growers how they can do more with less."
One way they can achieve that, according to Darryl, is with the RollerHooks by Paskal. "Compared to metal hooks, RollerHooks are much more efficient," he explains. "For instance, it takes roughly half the time to lower plants with RollerHooks, thus saving on labor. Additionally, metal hooks must be lifted, unwound, moved, and placed back on the crop wire, causing more shaking and stress on the plants. With RollerHooks, lowering is done by simply sliding the metal piece along the crop wire, creating less movement, less stress, and better health of the plant, period."
In a greenhouse project he worked on, Darryl indeed ended up switching all of the old hooks with the RollerHooks by Paskal after the grower saw with their eyes how much more efficient that solution was.
"The number one thing growers are looking for is to make sure that our service, our products, are of top quality, and we do exactly that. If there is one main thing to say about Paskal is that we are experts and excellent in R&D, production service, and also pricing." Darryl continues to explain that Paskal has indeed invested significantly in the North American market to better support growers. "Paskal made a strategic decision to extensively increase our production here in Canada by opening up another production site, bringing more molds, and making more products right here in Canada instead of Israel specifically for the products most popular in the Canadian and North American market. This is because if, on the one hand, you have to guarantee the quality, on the other hand, you have to also guarantee the speed of execution. Paskal is definitely a full-fledged local manufacturer now." This has also been instrumental during the worst periods of COVID. "Supply chain disruptions happened all over the world, and a lot of greenhouse projects slowed down or got outright halted. Despite being obviously challenging, we could get through that period brilliantly."
Keep the momentum
Having a good grower-supplier relationship is also crucial for food supply and safety. "Growers must be in the condition to execute in the best way possible. For this, suppliers like Paskal must always be there to support them, as the food people put on the table depends on them. Paskal has been active for more than 30 years, and we only use virgin, raw materials, producing everything ourselves, taking care of everything from production to delivery."
It's also crucial that suppliers adapt themselves to new upcoming challenges just like growers do. "We will continue the momentum we have built over 30 years," he says. "We are expanding our product offering, researching and developing new products. All of this is done, including our customers' and growers' feedback. For instance, we are looking at biodegradable products and how growers can go 'more green.' Generally speaking, we are just making sure that we are ready for any challenge that the industry throws our way."