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Canada moves to new, more profitable apple varieties

Many Canadian apple growers have adopted a new variety strategy as a way to improve profitability, as new varieties tend to sell at a premium price and have gained significant consumer appeal,

An interesting shift in consumer preferences in apples in Canada is outlined in a recent report by the USDA’s Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN).

For decades and for generations of Canadians, McIntosh was the most popular variety of apples, according to GAIN’s 2015 Fresh Deciduous Fruit Annual for Canada. But in the last decade in Ontario, which accounts for nearly 40% of all Canadians, Gala apples have cornered a 33% market share of the province’s apple growing industry and the McIntosh stands at just 12%. The Ontario Apple Growers Association reports that “one in every three apples eaten in Ontario is a Gala, most likely grown in Washington state or Chile.”

Many Canadian growers have adopted a new variety strategy as a way to improve profitability, as new varieties tend to sell at a premium price and have gained significant consumer appeal, GAIN says, citing a newspaper report that “Honeycrisp apples sell at a 50% premium.”

In Ontario, Empire now makes up about 20% of production, followed by Spy at about 15%, Red Delicious, Honeycrisp and Gala at 8-10% of production and Idared and Golden Delicious at about 5% each.

In Quebec, Cortland and Spartan account for about 8-10% each of the provincial production, followed by Empire and Paula Red at about 5%.

In Nova Scotia, Cortland comes first after McIntosh, at about 20% of production, followed by Spy and Idared at under 15% each, and Honeycrisp at about 8% of production.

And in British Columbia it is Gala, with over 40% of production, which has moved way ahead of Red Delicious (8%) and McIntosh (10%) as the most popular variety. According to the Canadian Horticulture Council, the introduction of new varieties has been particularly important in British Columbia, where growers have been planting new varieties like Spartan, Gala, Fuji, Braeburn, Jonagold, Honeycrisp and Ambrosia.

New plantings of Ambrosia, which apparently commands the highest premium among all apple varieties in British Columbia, have nearly doubled every year in the past five years, and the variety has been so well received by the market that producers cannot keep up with demand.

Apple imports climb, production declines in Canada

GAIN forecasts a 20% increase in Canadian imports of fresh apples, estimated at 260,000 tons for marketing year (MY) 2015/16 up from 217,000 tons during MY 2014/15. The US remains Canada’s largest supplier of fresh apples, with a stable market share of about 80%.

Canada’s fresh apple production, meanwhile, is forecast to decline by 23% in MY 2015/16, down to 290,000 tons from 374,000 tons during MY 2014/15.

“This decline is attributable to a host of weather related developments such as: a late spring frost followed by a cool and wet summer season in Ontario, a dry and hot growing season in British Columbia, and heavy winter snow and a late spring in Nova Scotia. Production in Quebec is anticipated to exceed last year’s level, supported by a very good growing season,” GAIN says.

“Over the long term, the decline in fresh apple production in Canada is consistent with reduced planted areas which, in turn, reflected the declining profitability of apple cultivation over the past decade. Data for the recent years seem to indicate that the sector has now stabilized, as growers have learned what production level is most economical and profitable.”

“Growers that intend to remain in the industry are turning to newer, more popular varieties such as Ambrosia and Honeycrisp and new, modern intensive planting systems in an attempt to remain competitive with imports. Through talks with apple growers in Eastern Canada Post learned about a new trend among some producers to diversify into brewing hard cider as a way to increase profitability, a practice that has met success to date. To assist producers facing industry pressures and changing markets, Canada’s federal and provincial authorities offered replant programs between 2008 and 2010.”

source: GAIN report –2015 Fresh Deciduous Fruit Annual for Canada

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Quebec promotes its favourite home-grown and processed vegetables

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New consumer food guide provides practical tips on using processed vegetable options

The “I love 5 to 10 servings a day” campaign is launching the Coup de cœur pour des légumes cultivés et transformés au Québec! (Quebec’s favourite home-grown and processed vegetables) – a  free booklet with practical advice on how to harness the health benefits of Quebec peas, corn and green beans frozen or canned.

In the guide, nutritionist and spokesperson for the “I love 5 to 10 servings a day” campaign Julie DesGroseilliers explains how processed vegetables are convenient options that are both nutritious and tasty. “Raw or cooked, fresh, frozen or canned, in soups or in salads, sautéed or au gratin…there’s no wrong way to eat 5 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day,” DesGroseilliers said.

The “I love 5 to 10 servings a day” campaign was launched by the Quebec Produce Marketing Association (QPMA) in 2004. Its purpose is to raise consumer awareness about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy lifestyle. 

The guide can be downloaded here for free (in French).

 

 

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Canada’s largest fresh produce event taking place in April

‘Educate, Innovate, Create’ is the theme of this year’s Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) convention and trade show.

CPMA’s new initiatives optimise the show’s utility for busy participants and focus on the keys to increasing fruit and vegetable sales

‘Educate, Innovate, Create’ is the theme of this year’s Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) convention and trade show.

The largest fresh produce event in Canada, it will take place in Quebec from April 15–17 at Montreal’s Palais des Congress. The show is expected to attract more than 3,000 participants.

CPMA president Ron Lemaire said the event brings together members not only of the Canadian but also the whole North American and global supply chains. “It’s one of best events because it’s not as massive as Fruit Logistica or the PMA yet all the key stakeholders are still there.”

The ‘Educate, Innovate, Create’ theme reflects the three keys to increasing fresh produce consumption, Lemaire said.

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CPMA president Ron Lemaire

Innovation showcase for new products

Price is naturally important to Canadian consumers but they are also looking for quality and taste, where innovation plays a big role.

The event’s trade show and new product showcase is a “must see,” covering diverse new retail ideas from around the world ranging from packaging – including new types enabling longer shelf life – to marketing – such as ready–to–eat programs, he said.

Speed learning in comfy lounge areas

New this year are ‘learning lounges’. Lemaire said these offer busy attendees a concentrated burst of knowledge as an alternative to longer sessions or workshops. The idea emerged from feedback that more and more people want opportunities to acquire useful information fast – something they can “consume when back in the office.” After all, they are at the event to build business and need to get back out among the diverse stakeholders present and more than 250 companies showcasing products, he said.

Spread around the venue, the  lounges will be relaxed settings where small groups of 25–30 people will gather for 15 minute informal discussions with experts. There will be repeats of the sessions topics, which will cover issues from marketing to retail, such as emerging trends and technology, how to use Canada’s new ‘Half Your Plate’ campaign to drive fruit and veggie consumption, and where the North American regulatory framework is headed.

Retail program

The event also includes a retail program which retail produce managers can attend for free to expand their product knowledge. Topics such as banana production, merchandising leafy greens, and in-store positioning of hothouse produce will be among those covered. “They then walk the trade show floor to see some of the new packaging and products and, in an ideal world, return to their stores to share their increased knowledge so their store can provide expert advice to consumers.”

The latter is increasingly important because product knowledge helps drive sales but is a challenge given Canada’s wide product diversity and a transient and often part–time workforce.

Some of Canada’s top retailers will be featured in the event’s opening session, and a lunch-time panel on the Thursday will bring together retail leaders from the US “to discuss what’s new and exciting and how the entire supply chain must work together to grow the market.”

During the Friday brunch, the CPMA will recognise leaders in the industry during its annual awards ceremony, Lemaire said.

Register at convention.cpma.ca/register

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