As Ontario consumers are looking for quick ways to prepare healthy meals, fresh-cut items also continues to grow in popularity. “At Pride Pak Canada all the rage right now is our extensive collection of salads and vegetable mixes that appeal to a wide range of consumers with diverse tastes,” points out Chapman. “We cater to the quick on-the-go shopper and to the at-home gourmet chef with our trendy soup mixes, cut and cleaned rappini, diced vegetables as recipe starters, Asian coleslaw, and fajita mixes.”
Chapman says the company has also seen higher demand for ready-to-eat single serve-fruits. “Consumers want healthier choices, and we foresee a growing trend towards snack options for both adults and children that are portion-controlled servings of a wide variety of fresh-cut fruits.”
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
Ian MacKenzie Retires
With the Ontario Produce Marketing Association since 1994, we asked MacKenzie to talk about his 20-year career: My experience in the produce industry has been very rewarding because of the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made. There is always something new you can learn in this industry—whether it be new technology being used to grow, store, and market produce or the innovative ways fruits and vegetables are merchandised at retail. It has also been very fulfilling.
I like to think I’m a problem solver, and it’s always very satisfying when you’re able to sort through a problem and come up with a successful ending. Sometimes you have to be satisfied with a compromising solution, but as long as you come up with something to ‘put the issue to bed,’ you can move on.
Although I definitely have no regrets, there were some disappointments during my career: such as not being able to help conclude work started by the Fresh Produce Alliance in the areas of Canada/U.S. grade standardization, collection of more accurate market information for the Canadian industry, and the establishment of PACA-like trust provisions here in Canada.
If you had to choose three words to describe your career, what would they be? Cooperate, collaborate, and care—in other words, “cooperate” as much as you possibly can with your colleagues and members and urge cooperation up and down the supply chain to ensure the viability of all involved. “Collaborate” rather than duplicate: I’m a big proponent of collaboration; the industry is just too big to go it alone. You need partners. And “care” about the decisions you make and those you can influence so the industry can continue to thrive and sustain itself.
The Ontario Produce HUB
In the center of Toronto, the Ontario Food Terminal (OFT) moves more than a million tons of produce and horticultural products each and every year. Nearly half of the fruits and vegetables sold at the OFT are Ontario-grown—the rest is grown in other provinces or imported from the United States, Mexico, and other countries.
A long-standing supporter of locally grown produce, the OFT houses both wholesalers and local farmers. The Terminal also happens to be the only wholesale fresh produce market in Canada and offers countless advantages to its wholesalers. “The OFT is unique in that it is strictly wholesale, and buyers must register to gain entry,” says Bruce Nicholas, general manager, secretary, and treasurer of the OFT. “Because we’re in the heart of the city, we can serve most of Ontario with produce going as far as Newfoundland from this market.”