Spanning the East
Major metro areas, diverse demand, and turning challenges into opportunities
If food is a universal language, few countries are more diverse than Canada, leveraging a wealth of fresh flavors and cuisines for discerning residents and even those beyond its borders.
Of particular note is Ontario, near the middle of this vast nation, with its flourishing food industry—from the hustle and bustle of the Ontario Food Terminal and its distributors to a vibrant restaurant scene and keenly competitive retail environment.
Heading farther east is Quebec, another land of complements and contrasts, alongside the rest of Eastern Canada. This article will focus on Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island—and their contributions to the True North’s booming fresh food industry.
Thanks to its relatively mild climate, plentiful water, and fertile farmland, Ontario is indeed a land of plenty. It is also home to Toronto, a jewel for all things produce, and the perfect destination for the province’s homegrown bounty.
As Canada’s top fruit and vegetable producer (though British Columbia ranks higher in fruit alone), crops from A to Z flood the province’s wholesale and retail establishments. Tied into supply and demand is the region’s diversity, with growers and wholesalers providing more than 125 different crops that make their way to schools, hotels, restaurants, and grocery stores.
Contributing to the area’s character is culinary magic, fusing old and new to create twists on traditional favorites and popular ethnic dishes. As a form of cultural understanding, Toronto’s food scene embraces it all and merchants at the Ontario Food Terminal help fulfill demand.
Old and new
“Ontario is very popular for root vegetables like carrots, onions, and beets, but there are farmers doing a great job on many other commodities like broccoli, sweet corn, peppers, tomatoes, hard squash, stone fruit, and apples,” comments Dan Carnevale, vice president of operations for Veg-Pak Produce Ltd. in Toronto. “Recently, we’ve been seeing farmers try new things, especially in the Asian vegetable category.”
This is not surprising considering the province’s surging population, with Toronto’s metro area climbing to nearly 6 million alone, much of it from Asian immigrants settling in the city.
Carnevale applauds the region’s worldly appeal: “Being in Toronto has its particular advantages due to the diverse ethnicities here,” he notes. “It allows us to explore specialty items from across the world that will appeal to specific ethnicities and at the same time allow people to try new things in their cuisine.”