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Spanning the East

Major metro areas, diverse demand, and turning challenges into opportunities
MS_Spanning the East

Businesses in the area enjoy close proximity to the U.S. East Coast and its major metropolitan areas and easy access to U.S. trade routes. Better yet are two other perks unique to Canada: first, being part of the Trans-Pacific Partner-ship, eschewed by the United States, which promises access to produce to and from the Asia-Pacific region.

Loving fruits and vegetables
Second is consistently high per capita consumption of fruits and vegetables. According to Statistics Canada, 30 percent of Canadians aged 12 and older (roughly 8.6 million people) consumed five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day in 2016.

Quebec boasts even higher consumption rates—with 39 percent of residents eating five or more servings a day—providing proof the Quebec Produce Marketing Association’s longtime slogan promoting “I love 5 to 10 servings a day” continues to resonate with the province’s consumers.

Quebec, along with Ontario and British Columbia, account for more than 90 percent of Canada’s cultivated vegetable crop acreage, and 65 percent of cultivated fruit. For its part, Quebec’s top commodities include apples, cranberries, blueberries, carrots, radishes, beets, leeks, and green onions.

Related to its cranberry production, Atoka Cranberries Inc. in Manseau, about 125 miles northeast of Montreal, was recently acquired by American powerhouse Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. The move will extend the reach of Quebec-grown cranberries and help increase efficiency and yields through capital investments.

Trending, Trending
In total, Quebec is home to nearly 1,500 fruit growers—more than any other Canadian province, representing almost a quarter of the country’s fruit production value. Like Ontario, Quebec is becoming a leader in greenhouse production as well, with nearly 250 structures to date and accounting for nearly a quarter of the province’s overall vegetable production.

This is backed up by Pitsikoulis, who says over the last year demand has climbed for a few Quebec-grown items. “There’s been a lot of growth with hothouse tomatoes and strawberries—not only field-grown strawberries, but also hothouse-grown strawberries,” he explains. “We’re distributors of these products, and that’s where I’ve seen the greatest growth.”

Each year, the majority of Quebec-grown fruits and vegetables move through Montreal’s la Place des Producteurs. The year-round, long-standing market supplies distributors, retailers, and restaurants throughout the region.

“A couple of years ago, Montreal was voted the top restaurant city in North America,” enthuses Pitsikoulis. “We have a very vibrant restaurant scene, not too many chain restaurants, mostly chef-owner operated restaurants. Because of our diverse ethnic makeup, you’ll find everything: Syrian, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Sene-galese, Haitian. Every ethnic minority is represented in the restaurant scene, as well as all the new trends including local, or-ganic, and fair trade.”