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  • New Annual Market Report shows Dramatic Increase in Produce Sales at Retail in 2020

    Toronto, ON – March 10, 2021 – Citrus, Asian and Indian vegetables including cooking roots such as garlic, ginger and turmeric, lead the way in year-on-year growth during 2020 in Ontario retail produce departments. The report, produced by the Ontario Produce Marketing Association (OPMA) shows an overall increase of 8.3% in produce sales growth compared to 5.2% in 2019 and an 8.1% increase in tonnage growth compared to a 2% reduction in 2019.Vegetables took the lead with an 11% increase in sales compared to their fruit counterparts which saw a 6.1% growth in sales. Growth can be attributed to more at-home cooking during the pandemic and possibly consumers replicating their favourite restaurant meals at home. Resulting in a bump in vegetable sales and a desire to try non-conventional produce items. “The findings of this report indicate increased grocery spend on fresh produce,” noted OPMA President, Michelle Broom. “Whether it’s being driven by a desire to build immune defenses in the face of a pandemic, or wanting to experiment with different flavor profiles, Ontario consumers are spending more time than ever in the produce aisle.” Tomatoes, potatoes and peppers saw the highest growth in sales while potatoes, onions and carrots experienced the largest tonnage increase in the vegetable category. When it came to fruit, oranges, strawberries and cherries were the top commodities in sales growth, while avocados, watermelon and oranges led the way in tonnage growth.“This research points to unique opportunities for both suppliers and retailers,” said Mike Mauti, Managing Partner at Execulytics Consulting. “While consumers are still doing a lot of their cooking at home, it’s a good time for suppliers to diversify with a larger variety, perhaps adding specialty or multicultural vegetables into their offering. Retailers can capitalize on the growing desire for exotic fruits and look at in-store merchandising changes to strengthen this category.”Fruits that saw a decline in tonnage growth include cut fruit, grapes, apples and pears. On the vegetable side, salad greens and Italian vegetables underperformed in total vegetables and total produce both in sales and tonnage. A decline in these commodities can be explained by the consumer’s desire to experiment more with their home cooked meals.This report is based on NielsenIQ MarketTrack data for fresh produce sold in Ontario grocery banner, mass merchandiser and drug channels for the 52 weeks ending October 3, 2020.  Additional analysis was conducted by Execulytics Consulting. Access to the full report is available to OPMA members on the OPMA’s website.-30-About the Ontario Produce Marketing Association: The Ontario Produce Marketing Association is a member funded, not for profit organization whose mission is to connect people and information from field to plate.For more information contact:Emilia De SousaMarketing and Communications

  • Ontario Consumer Produce Shopping Habits 2020

    A new consumer research study commissioned by The Ontario Produce Marketing Association (OPMA) reveals 44% of shoppers changed their produce shopping behavior during the pandemic in a variety of ways.One of the biggest shifts in shopper behavior was intention to purchase local produce, with 36% of shoppers reporting they are now looking for local more often. While the key driver of this decision is the desire to support the local economy, shoppers also believe Ontario produce is fresher, has fewer touch points and tastes better.The study also focused on shoppers’ location preferences during the pandemic, specifically when it comes to produce. While people continue to prefer to shop in-person for produce, one in four respondents indicated their produce shopping location had changed. Seven in ten respondents indicated that they buy produce in-person at conventional grocery stores, 56% shop at discount stores and 40% mentioned big box stores. “This research is unique as it is focused on the Ontario shopper and the attitudes that drive their produce purchases,” said Michelle Broom, OPMA President. “The research overwhelmingly indicates that given the opportunity, consumers want to support the local economy. It is important that we provide them with the right tools to do so.”The growing awareness of fair trade was evident with half of respondents reporting they seek out fair trade produce when shopping, particularly women. When it comes to conventional vs. organic produce, 14% of produce is purchased in the organic section, 85% of those who purchase organic say the amount of organic produce they purchase has not changed.“We were thrilled to see such high consumer interest in fair trade”, commented Jennie Coleman, President of Equifruit and OPMA member. “This study confirms that fair trade produce is a major opportunity for retailers. With 51% of respondents seeking produce certified Fairtrade, we know that we’re out of a niche and into the mainstream.”The findings indicate a small shift in frequency of shopping, with the average being five times per month, down from six times. Plastic packaging still remains a hot topic. Almost nine in ten shoppers believe it should be reduced while 66% think it should be eliminated altogether. Despite this, most agree that it’s important for food safety and reducing food waste. The OPMA partnered with Leger, the largest Canadian-owned market research and analytics company, to conduct the study on consumer shopping habits during the pandemic. The results were presented to members in a webinar by Lisa Covens, Vice-President, Communications and Public Affairs at Leger. Data was gathered through an online survey completed by 1001 grocery shoppers between October 28, 2020 and November 3, 2020 using Leger’s online panel.

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  • Longo’s partners with Equifruit to become First Retailer in North America to offer Exclusively Fairtrade Bananas

        TORONTO, May 06, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE)  — Longo’s Brothers Fruit Market (“Longo’s”) has become the first grocery retailer in North America to commit to offering only Fairtrade bananas in their 36 stores and through delivery on Grocery Gateway. This is made possible through a partnership with the Canadian company, Equifruit. The landmark decision sets a new standard for sustainable produce supply chains in North America. The announcement is aligned with Fairtrade Month, which takes place each May in Canada. With this commitment, Longo’s is ensuring that the farmers and communities where its bananas are sourced are guaranteed a fair and sustainable income and that farmers get financial and technical support to lower their impact on the environment. For Longo’s, a full commitment to Fairtrade bananas comes as the latest in a long line of sustainability initiatives centred around environmental stewardship, responsible sourcing, and healthy communities, including waste diversion, use of renewable energy, and community donations. “We aim to be the most trusted and relied upon food partner, and that includes setting sustainability precedents,” said Mike Longo, Chief Merchandising Officer at Longo’s. “We’re proud to be the first North American retailer to initiate what is becoming a global purchasing standard for bananas.” Fairtrade aims to create more respectful trading partnerships between producers and consumers, and so Longo’s has chosen to partner on this project with Equifruit, the Canadian leader in Fairtrade banana imports and marketing, to connect with their Guests on both supply and support with in-store messaging. In meeting Fairtrade’s social sustainability standards, Equifruit and Longo’s reinvest US$1 per standard 40lb case sold back to the communities where the bananas were produced. These funds are used for projects like clean water facilities, schools and health clinics. “Fairtrade standards provide essential income stability to banana farmers working in an otherwise highly volatile market and empower them to invest in their communities,” said Jennie Coleman, President of Equifruit. “Fairtrade purchasing is the most pragmatic approach to ensuring these communities continue to develop and provide the world with its favourite staple fruit.” “Produce has always been the backbone of our business, and responsible sourcing is not only incredibly important to us but is at the core of our family values,” said Mimmo Franzone, Director of Produce and Floral at Longo’s. “We are proud to be taking these important steps with Equifruit to ensure we can continue to fuel happier and healthier lives around the globe for years to come.” Following a successful Longo’s pilot of Fairtrade-only bananas and the positive feedback from Guests, Longo’s was confident that making this exclusive offering was not only the right decision for its Guests, but for a sustainable future. To meet International Fairtrade Standards, banana producers must provide fair wages and safe working conditions for workers, forbid child labour, minimize the use of chemicals, and properly sustain the local environment. Learn more about the impacts of Fairtrade banana production on Equifruit’s website. Effective May 6th, all 36 locations of Longo’s and Grocery Gateway delivery will exclusively offer both conventional and organic Fairtrade bananas. About Longo’s Brothers Fruit Market Longo’s is a family-operated Canadian organization that started in 1956 when three brothers, Tommy, Joe and Gus opened their first fruit market. What began as a small family-run store has since grown to a company that operates 36 stores in communities across Toronto and the GTA, as well as Grocery Gateway, the leader in online sales of home-delivered groceries. Today, Longo’s maintains the same family-based values as they did 65 years ago, putting Family Standards at the heart of everything they do. Longo’s is proud to serve their Guests the quality standard of food they believe every family deserves, and to give back to the communities they operate in through the Longo’s Family Charitable Foundation. About Equifruit: Equifruit is a group of diehard believers in ethical fruit sourcing. Especially when it comes to bananas. We’re righting the wrongs of banana business history by making it fair from the start, especially for farmers. Established in 2006, Equifruit is Canada’s leading Fairtrade-certified banana importer. We’re a growing produce aisle sweetheart with current distribution in Quebec and Ontario. Stay tuned for our worldwide Fairtrade banana domination – starting with North America. Longo’s Media Contact: Kate Johnny Public Relations Equifruit Media Contact: Kim Chackal Director of Sales & Marketing, Equifruit 514.993.7736

  • Mike & Mike’s Organics – One of Canada’s Best Managed Companies over the past decade

    Vancouver, BC – May 5th, 2021 – Fresh Direct Produce Ltd. (“Fresh Direct”), and its partner companies Mike & Mike’s Organics, Islands West Manufacturers, and Emperor Specialty Foods are honoured to be one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies over the past decade. This prestigious national award is sponsored by CIBC, Deloitte Private, Canadian Business, Smith School of Business, and TMX Group. “Our Team is honoured to receive its tenth consecutive Best Managed Companies Award. We are celebrating our 18th anniversary with exceptional growth and business development across Western and Central Canada. Our teams persevered during this pandemic in continuing to provide nutritious and healthy produce to millions of Canadians daily and increased our support to our communities where we serve. We continue to provide financial and in-kind donations to the Food Banks and various local community groups to support the most vulnerable population.” says President and CEO Davis Yung. The Fresh Direct Produce Group is one of Canada’s premier fresh produce importers, wholesalers, and marketers with distribution centres in Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. Sourcing and importing over 1,500 ethnic, organic, and conventional fruit and vegetable items from 36 countries, Fresh Direct distributes quality produce to grocery retailers and foodservice distributors across Canada. The Group’s commitment to growth and development allows them to attract and align with the best growers, customers, and talents in the industry. For additional information about Fresh Direct Produce, please contact: For more information about Canada’s Best Managed Companies Program, please visit:

  • Member Spotlight – Cascades Fresh Packaging Solutions

    With your needs in mind, Cascades developed a complete range of products that are 100% recyclable and that are made from different types of recovered cardboard and plastics.From trays to baskets and boxes, you have access to innovative and sustainable packaging solutions with a number of sturdiness and barrier options to suit all your requirements.    New Cascades FreshTM packaging solutions will help you reach your environmental footprint objectives while preserving the freshness of your fruits and vegetables throughout the supply chain.  In addition, Cascades FreshTM products provide visual appeal that get the attention of consumers.When partnering with Cascades, you also benefit from the expertise of our Cascades Fresh packaging specialists who can guide you in choosing the appropriate packaging or help develop a customized solution.

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Ontario contributes over one third of Canada’s total fruit and vegetable production, contributing more than $4.2 billion and over 66,000 jobs to the economy. Approximately 43% of this value is field grown and 57% produced in greenhouse operations….Continue Reading

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