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Canadian consumers pay attention to growing methods

Though demand for organic produce is not consistent in all markets, it is nonetheless a prominent trend, as Canadian consumers show they want to know more about how their fruits and vegetables are grown.

“We’ve been talking about organics for years, but they continue to trend,” said George Pitsikoulis, president of Canadawide Fruit Wholesalers Inc. in Montreal. “With millennials becoming consumers now, they seem to be focused on more organics.”

As organic prices fall more in line with conventional, Pitsikoulis said consumers are buying even more organic.

“There used to be a bigger difference in price between organics and conventional, but now the price is much closer. Overall,” Pitsikoulis said, “our business has been increasing at a steady clip—but within that, the increase on the organic side of our business is on a whole other level. It’s been a crazy increase.”

Another facet of healthful living and better-for-you foods includes how the items are grown. According to Roy Hinchey, CEO of Thomas Fresh Inc. in Calgary, AB, Alberta growers are paying more attention to environmental responsibility.

Many are tapping into new ways to conserve water, while simultaneously increasing the quality of their product.

“As we advance in technology, we see more farmers using alternate methods to grow crops in soil,” Hinchey said. “There are many growers perfecting hydroponic growing, vertical growing, and aeroponics.”

Canada has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to greenhouses, so it’s no surprise the adoption of other alternatives is gaining traction.

“We’ve been in talks with farmers who use carbon to grow crops with minimal water in a low-light atmosphere,” Hinchey said. “Retailers are excited about these developments due to the cost benefits and low environmental impact. It’s an exciting time to be in agriculture, with so much innovation.”