Research Reveals $135 Million Opportunity for Ontario’s Fruit and Vegetable Sector
Updated Greenbelt Report and Case Studies Uncover Expansion Opportunity, Profile Farmers Leading Expansion Efforts
Toronto, Ontario, June 15, 2021—Building on a report released in 2020, the Greenbelt Foundation is announcing new research on opportunities to expand Ontario’s fruit and vegetable sector to increase local production of apples, snap beans, and two kinds of cabbage. Expanding production of these crops could add $35 million to farm-gate revenues, on top of the $100 million opportunity outlined in the 2020 report. Collectively, this could make an important contribution to Ontario’s rural economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report outlines how the region—of which the Greenbelt contributes 750,000 acres of highly productive farmland—could provide an even greater contribution to the province’s rural economy."
An updated version of Plant the Seeds: Opportunities to Grow Southern Ontario's Fruit and Vegetable Sector report was released today. The report outlines how the region—of which the Greenbelt contributes 750,000 acres of highly productive farmland—could provide an even greater contribution to the province’s rural economy by helping it rely less on imported fruits and vegetables and expand production of nine crops including the four mentioned above plus those covered by the 2020 report: fresh grapes, strawberries, pears, garlic, and sweet potatoes, as well as vertical farming.
“We are very fortunate in southern Ontario to have some of the country’s most productive agricultural operations in the Greenbelt and adjacent areas, due to a unique growing climate, excellent soils, and proximity to major markets,” says Edward McDonnell, CEO of the Greenbelt Foundation. “This latest research is part of the Greenbelt Foundation’s ongoing efforts to help Ontario get the most benefit from the region’s agricultural lands, while supporting farmers and helping strengthen rural economies.”
Outlined in this new version of the report is an opportunity to increase the market share of Ontario-grown fresh apples from an average of 74.5 per cent of annual consumption up to 83 per cent; fresh snap beans from 45 per cent to close to 50 per cent of annual consumption; “Chinese” cabbage from an average of 50 per cent of annual consumption to almost 68 per cent; and regular cabbage from an average of 78.5 per cent of annual consumption to up to 90 per cent. Altogether, these expansion opportunities would contribute $34.4 million to Ontario’s rural economies in farm-gate revenue.
“This report is very timely,” says Alison Robertson, Executive Director of Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (OFVGA). “As Canadians emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, it is my hope that the public and governments have a new appreciation for food sovereignty and security. As we continue to address ongoing challenges in the agri-food sector, such as competing in a global market and declining margins, we must also explore opportunities to increase Ontario production.”
As the research explains, Farmers in Ontario generate $4.2 billion in economic activity annually, employing 96,000 people directly and indirectly. Accompanying the release of the updated Plant the Seeds report is a profile of four farmers who are leading expansion efforts: Nature’s Bounty, in Port Perry; Fenwick Berry Farm, in Pelham; Berlo’s Best Sweet Potatoes, in Simcoe; and Van Raay Farms, in Dashwood.
The full report, a summary report, and farmer profiles can be viewed HERE.
About Greenbelt Foundation:
Greenbelt Foundation is a charitable organization, solely dedicated to ensuring the Greenbelt remains permanent, protected and prosperous. We make the right investments in its interconnected natural, agricultural and economic systems, to ensure a working, thriving Greenbelt for all. Ontario's Greenbelt is the world's largest, with over two million acres of farmland, forests, wetlands and rivers working together to provide clean air, fresh water, and a reliable local food source.
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