In the Fall of 2014, Nature Fresh Farms opened their first greenhouse outside Canada in Ohio, USA. In the 45-acre greenhouse, different tomato varieties are grown. Now, eight years later, expansion is underway with another 45 acres that will solely be used to grow strawberries. “We began exploring and trialing greenhouse-grown strawberries in 2019,” says Matt Quiring, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing with Nature Fresh Farms. The company produced their first strawberry crop in 2020 and currently grows 25 acres of conventional strawberries in Ontario, Canada.
What drives expansion?
The Ohio expansion will bring the company’s total strawberry acreage to 70. “The expansion is driven by consumers gravitating to a better-tasting strawberry, which we can produce in the greenhouse,” commented Quiring. “Better flavor and quality are a big recipe for success. In addition, field growers are often faced with challenges related to weather and lack of water, disrupting supply for retailers. Our retail partners are requesting elevated flavor offerings and surety of supply. Greenhouse-grown has the ability to accomplish all of this,” Quiring added. When looking at data, he sees a massive opportunity to pick up incremental sales by just having supply available.
Right now, Nature Fresh’s strawberries are conventionally grown, but the new 45-acre greenhouse will be fully dedicated to growing organic strawberries. “While production of greenhouse-grown strawberries continues to grow every year, currently, no one else is growing organic greenhouse strawberries in North America,” said Quiring. “We feel we’re well positioned to fill a need in supply that nobody else can. Investing in organic greenhouse-grown strawberries provides us an opportunity to lead the category.” Nature Fresh Farms expects high demand for their premium, locally grown strawberries that offer increased freshness due to proximity to the market.
In addition to being organic, the new 45-acre expansion will also be FairTrade certified. “These strawberries carry a lot of weight with organic strawberry shoppers in particular. Not only do they offer value for the consumer, but FairTrade strawberries also fit with our ‘Growing for a Kinder Future’ way of thinking.”
Harvest of organic greenhouse-grown strawberries will start this Fall, and the Ohio greenhouse will continue to serve retail partners across North America.