Industry Media

OPMA News Releases

  • The Ontario Produce Marketing Association Announces Seven New Board Members

    Toronto, ON – June 10, 2021 – The Ontario Produce Marketing Association (OPMA) announces the appointment of seven new board members at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on June 9, 2021. The newly elected Directors will serve three-year terms from 2021 to 2024. The Directors joining the OPMA’s board are: Ryan Goad from Loblaw Companies; Dan Tukendorf from the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association; Madison Hopper from Equifruit; Andrew George from EarthFresh Farms. Marc Wall from Sandy Shore Farms; Amanda Knauff from Taylor Farms; and Matthew Quiring from Nature Fresh Farms. Ryan Goad is the Senior Category Director of Fresh Procurement at Loblaw Companies. Goad has 17 years of experience in Canadian retail produce ranging from store-level operations and employee training/development, as well as 12 years of experience in produce procurement. Dan Tukendorf is the Program Manager of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association. His career has spanned across the produce industry value chain. Past roles have included farming vegetables and growing floral crops, quality assurance inspection, retail grocery produce procurement, and category management. Madison Hopper is the Marketing Manager for Equifruit, the Canadian market leader in Fairtrade bananas. She has extensive board experience, most notably serving on the board of Fairtrade Canada for three years. She currently serves on the OPMA’s Young Professionals Network Committee as the Secretary. Andrew George got his introduction to the produce world by spending summers sorting, grading and hauling potatoes at the old EarthFresh production facility on Browns Line. Currently, with eight years experience, he is now leading the Canadian Sales Team as the Senior Director of Sales at EarthFresh Farms. Marc Wall is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Sandy Shore Farms. He joined the family business in 2013 and assumed his current role leading sales and marketing programs in 2018. He also serves on the board of the Asparagus Farmers of Ontario and the Agriculture Advisory Board of Norfolk County. Amanda Knauff detoured from the CPG world into the produce industry three years ago, starting as a business development manager for Taylor Farms, where she built a sales and marketing strategy for the Canadian marketplace.  Recently, Taylor Farms bought a facility in Vaughan and she is now Director of Sales leading a local Ontario team. Matt Quiring is the Director of Sales at Nature Fresh Farms. He has spent over 10 years in the greenhouse farming sector developing smart business strategies and fostering sales partnerships. At the meeting, Steven Dimen, the Chair of the OPMA welcomed the new board members. Dimen said “An election was held electronically with a record number of votes. Congratulations to the newly elected Directors.” Dimen also recognized the retiring directors, “Thank you to the seven departing directors for their many years of voluntary service to the OPMA.” The seven Directors retiring from the board are: Sarah Taylor from Gambles Produce; Chris Streef from Streef Produce; Frank Spagnuolo from Loblaw Companies; Carleigh White from WalMart Canada; Jason Verkaik from Carron Farms; Sarah Marshall from the Ontario Tender Fruit Growers’ Association; and Fiona McLean from DelFresco Produce. In addition, three current Directors whose terms had ended were voted back onto the Board: Steve Moffat from North American Produce Buyers; Adam Donikian from Sobeys; and Julian Sarriano from Fresh Taste. A key priority for the Board will be providing greater value to members. The OPMA will be conducting a review and working with experts, with input from members to accomplish its strategic objective to build the Association. About Ontario Produce Marketing Association: The Ontario Produce Marketing Association is a member-funded, not-for-profit organization whose primary objective is to connect people and information from field to plate. -30- For more information contact: Rochelle Roye Marketing and Communications Manager rochelle@theopma.ca

  • 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 Manageremilia@theopma.ca

  • 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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  • OPMA 2021 Golf Tournament Tickets Now On Sale

    The Ontario Produce Marketing Association (OPMA) will be hosting its 26th Annual Golf Tournament on September 15, 2021, at the Lionhead Golf and Country Club in Brampton. There will be a few changes due to pandemic recovery restrictions. Instead of a shot gun start, all groups of four will start from the first tee at their allocated tee-off time and then play through to the 18th hole. The two courses available are “The Masters” course and “The Legends” course that is slightly more challenging. Features of this year’s golf tournament include a hole in one competition, longest drive competition, closest to the pin competition, putting contest, air cannon, and live scoring and leaderboard through the Golf Genius app. Prizes will be announced the next day. Ticket prices are: Single ticket: $250.00 plus HST Foursome ticket: $900.00 plus HST Lunch only (non-golfers): $30.00 plus HST Each ticket includes: One round of golf Pre-packed breakfast / brunch plus water or juice Lunch / early dinner on the patio with one drink Golf shirt, goodie bag, and hand sanitizer Prizes for competitions The OPMA will have all safety precautions in place and we will continue to monitor public health guidance. Purchase tickets online to attend the largest produce industry golf tournament in Ontario.   For more information, please contact: Rochelle Roye Marketing and Communications Manager The Ontario Produce Marketing Association Email: rochelle@theopma.ca

  • North American Produce Industry Sounds Warning Bell re Pallet Shortages Putting the Supply of Fresh Produce at Risk

    May 2021 Although conversations are occurring within the North American (and global) industry relative to the current acute pallet shortages, we believe that many do not yet realize the factors impacting the situation and the potential scope of the issue, including the availability of produce to consumers. A multitude of issues are impacting pallet availability including: Efforts of wholesalers, distributors and retailers to ensure sufficient inventory of non-perishables given previous pandemic-related impacts. The availability of lumber to repair and build new pallets. The escalating price of lumber when it is available. Non-perishable inventory dwell time increase. Lack of available trucks to relocate pallets. The lack of pallets is adding stress to a supply chain that is already facing significant challenges which include a lack of available trucks and shipping containers, ongoing labour challenges, fluctuating fuel costs, pandemic-related challenges and a pending shortage of resin used to make reusable containers and pallets.  At this time expectations are that the pallet shortage will continue for months, perhaps for the balance of 2021 – all at a time when many North American produce items are just beginning seasonal harvests and shipments. To give a sample of the scope of the issue, we’ve compiled the following information: The shortage of lumber and wood products has increased the cost of raw lumber 200% to 350% and is making the cost of wood pallets increase incrementally. In one example, it was noted that over the past few weeks, pallet costs have increased more than 400%, IF the pallets are even available, and often they are not. One farmer was told by one pallet supplier that they are not taking any new customers due to an inability to fill even existing customer demand. Companies are forced to bring pallets from other jurisdictions thereby incurring border and transportation costs. Pallets are being held in-house due to delayed and cancelled orders from pallet services, leading to higher storage charges and increased congestion within operations. Working together, the supply chain must balance organizational goals relative to overall availability of goods with availability of food.  If there is not a concerted effort across the supply chain to ensure pallet availability for shipment of produce, there is little doubt that it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for the grower/shipper community to meet buyer, and ultimately consumer, demand for produce.  Simultaneously, growers and shippers are working hard to remain compliant with pallet requirement specifications where they can, but this is proving challenging.  Temporary modifications or exceptions to pallet requirements, as long as they do not jeopardize safety, would prove advantageous until this pallet shortage is resolved. This news is intended, in part, to act as a catalyst for industry awareness and should be shared with all stakeholders to ensure a consistent understanding of the issue and to encourage discussions and efforts towards a path forward.  All partners in the supply chain should have regular conversations with their pallet suppliers to understand the situation and pallet inventories/availability. We welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with all parties within the supply chain to mitigate the impacts of the current shortages and will reach out to stakeholders to identify a path forward that provides solutions to this increasingly disruptive threat and enables the continued flow of goods. Click here to see more industry news

  • Algoma Orchards undertakes Waste Water Project

    Algoma Orchards is one of Canada’s most innovative leaders in apple farming, packing, and juice bottling. Algoma’s growing demand and production capacity required an increased supply of water, but infrastructure and operational challenges coupled with high costs of water were impeding expansion plans. SOLUTION: CharTech designed an integrated and compact membrane bioreactor (MBR)with bio-media in conjunction with highly effective Reverse Osmosis (RO) to convert high BOD wastewater into high-quality water that Algoma reuses for on-site processes. RESULT: CharTech supplied a state-of-the-art, fully automated closed loop water treatment system sized to process up to 110,000 liters per day of process wastewater to be recycled for reuse. It is one of first closed loop systems in Canada combining innovative technologies to effectively convert wastewater into high quality potable water, simultaneously enabling Algoma to increase its production capacity, improve efficiencies and reduce its environmental footprint. The project received grant funding to offset 50% of the project expenses, and also saves Algoma approximately $200,000 per year in operational costs. According to Kirk Kemp, President of Algoma Orchards, “Our partnership with CharTech Solutions to design and install a fully automated closed loop water recycling system has been a big success. We save $200,000/yr. by eliminating the need to truck in fresh water and dispose of wastewater for our apple and juice production processes. We’re proud to be an industry leader by implementing solutions that increases our capacity and reduces our environmental footprint.” Please view the project profile here: CharTech Project Profile – Algoma Orchards Closed Loop Water System 2021

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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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