For Stronach & Sons, Kurtz says top commodities include cilantro, coriander, eggplant, and asparagus “when the price is reasonable,” he asserts. “When asparagus is $3.99 and under, it moves, but when the price goes over that, it tapers off a bit.”
Cameron Neale, a broker with S.J. Neale Company Limited at the OFT, says the distributor’s biggest sellers are green onions, broccoli, Roma tomatoes, peppers, and Brussels sprouts.
Wholesalers are also riding the upsurge in organics. “There’s more demand for organics, partly because prices continue to go down,” comments Davidson. “Also, organics are available from more places around the world on a regular basis, so it allows the category to be more stable and consistent.”
Pride and Province
Thanks to the province’s relatively mild climate and plentiful water, Ontario is the top fruit and vegetable producer in eastern Canada; it supplies over half of the nation’s total vegetable production, and a good portion of its fruit—though it faces competition from other provinces, especially British Columbia.
Among Ontario’s fruit offerings are apples, peaches, strawberries, and sour cherries, but grapes are by far its top fruit crop with more than 18,000 acres of vineyards across major grape growing regions: the Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore, Prince Edward County, and the emerging South Coast region.
“The 2017 harvest was the largest grape crop on record in both value and volume, with 86,951 tons valued at $115 million,” enthuses Debbie Zimmerman, CEO of Grape Growers of Ontario.
The GGO, which celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2017, represents more than 500 grape growers and serves as an advocate for all processing grape growers in the province. “We are also an information resource for consumers, government, media, and winery and juice partners,” she says.
Though its emphasis is on processing and not table grapes, the group encourages Ontario consumers to purchase wine and juice made from locally grown grapes. “The Grape Growers of Ontario are continually planning for the future,” Zimmerman notes. “We look forward to implementing strategies to support our members and grow Ontario’s grape and wine industry domestically and abroad.”
When it comes to field production, Ontario produces a wide range of vegetables including sweet corn, green peas, tomatoes, green and wax beans, carrots, pumpkins, squash, and onions. A major potato producer, Ontario harvests plenty of spuds but is bested by Prince Edward Island as the country’s top producer.