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Canada’s top crops enjoy steady demand

Canada growers harvest a wide array of fresh produce, from asparagus to zucchini—though the country is best known for a handful of top fruit and vegetable crops.

“Generally, Canada’s top produce remains the same year over year,” said Ron Lemaire, president of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) in Ottawa, ON.

Lemaire says apples, blueberries, and grapes are consistently near the top for farm gate value for fruits, while carrots, tomatoes, and onions are the country’s top vegetable crops.

“Some items may exceed production and sales estimates any given year and surpass or fall behind their usual ‘competitors,’ but the variance is typically not drastic,” explains Lemaire.

Crop numbers from Statistics Canada valued the country’s vegetable production at $1.2 billion for 2017.

Carrot sales took the top spot at $129.3 million, followed by tomatoes ($110.1 million), onions ($91.4 million), lettuce ($78.4 million), sweet corn ($75.9 million), cabbage ($72.5 million), and broccoli ($72 million). These seven items accounted for more than half of all Canadian field-grown vegetables.

In the fruit sector, unfavorable weather conditions and price decreases affected total value, which fell 4.5 percent to $1 billion.

Grapes were the top fruit, accounting for more than 15 percent of the total at $158 million. Another top contender, apples, saw production fall by 15 percent due to weather conditions in Ontario.

On the plus side, strawberries saw their fifth consecutive year of production growth, rising in value by 18 percent to $128 million. Sweet cherries did even better, skyrocketing in value by 46 percent, while peaches went up by more than 21 percent.

While the nation’s top crops remain largely unchanged, many Canadian growers are exploring new varieties.

“Companies are continually working on new varieties, searching to create unique new flavor profiles,” Lemaire said. “In our competitive, evolving market, unique hybrids or varieties of existing fruits and vegetables can open up new opportunities and mini-niche markets.”

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