Plante says the region is currently seeing expansion of its greenhouse operations, in part because of a possible government subsidy that would offset energy-related costs. “One company is investing $10 million in cucumbers and peppers this year, and all the major greenhouse growers are expanding. If we assume the exchange rate will stay the same for the next three to five years, we see an increased opportunity to grow produce for export.”
Plante expects about 40 percent of the region’s crops to be exported during the year, a level not seen since the mid-1990s. Typical export volume for the past 15 to 20 years has been closer to 25 percent, primarily because of the currency fluctuations and the unfavorable exchange rate.
“The expansion in greenhouse growing will meet increasing demand for local produce, as well as the export market,” Gosselin agrees. “I think growers are well aware of what’s going on in California, and looking to take advantage of this opportunity.”
In addition to local loyalty from Montreal and Quebec consumers, Canada produce is gaining in popularity in the nearby U.S. market, in part due to its quality as well as the now-favorable exchange rate. “Our local produce had built a good reputation in years past, which eroded when the Canadian dollar and U.S. dollar came on par,” remarks Pitsikoulis. “But this has been revived as the Canadian dollar has weakened, and the quality of our produce is second to none.”