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Canada: pointing to a fresh future


Canada is the second largest country in the world, spanning more than 3.8 million square miles from the Atlantic to the Arctic. With ten provinces, three territories, and an array of climates and landscapes, it’s no wonder the True North is home to a prolific produce industry.

While there are numerous challenges for Canadian produce businesses, there will always be countless opportunities.

“There will be change in the future—change is the only constant,” said Fulton Hamill, president of Fulton Hamill, Ltd. in Albany. “But I’m very optimistic about the industry because there are so many opportunities if you’re willing to take a chance.”

Roy Hinchey, CEO of Thomas Fresh Inc. in Calgary, AB, believes advances in technology will be a boon for the produce businesses and retailers willing to embrace them. “In the next few years, we’ll continue to see a shifting retail landscape within the Canadian produce industry.

“Advancing technology provides an opportunity for retailers to automate with payment, cleaning, staffing, and learning about shopper behavior on new levels,” Hinchey said. “Evolving technology potentially allows cost savings and more precise targeting in the long run.”

Ron Lemaire, president of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) in Ottawa, ON, concurs. “It’s tough to predict what the next decade might hold in store for the Canadian produce industry, but as technology evolves, we’re seeing great effects on our business.”

Hinchey adds that consumer education is another area of opportunity. “Shoppers are interested in learning about what they eat on a deeper level,” he said.

“Retailers and their suppliers can help educate consumers on their food with nutritional profiles, in-store point-of-sale displays, and online resources.”

For George Pitsikoulis, president of Canadawide Fruit Wholesalers Inc. in Montreal, the direction for Canadian produce is onward and upward. “I truly believe we’re in the right category within the food world, which is fresh produce,” he said.

Referring to current trade organization and government recommendations to fill half of every plate with fruits and vegetables, he notes, “I believe there’s the potential to increase this even further as people continue to eat more and more fresh produce.”

This is an excerpt from the most recent Produce Blueprints quarterly journal. Click here to read the full supplement.