Industry Media

OPMA News Releases

  • The Ontario Produce Marketing Association Announces Four New Board Members

    Toronto, ON – June 17, 2022 – The Ontario Produce Marketing Association (OPMA) announces the appointment of four new Board members at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on June 15, 2022. The newly elected Directors will serve three-year terms from 2022 to 2025.   The Directors joining the OPMA’s Board are: Michael Miranda from Farm Boy, Ariel Nevado from Metro Inc., Dustin Wellman from Wonderful Sales and Agnes Boutros from Mastronardi Produce Ltd.   Michael Miranda is the Produce Category Manager at Farm Boy. Miranda has extensive committee experience with the OPMA. His most notable contribution has been his leadership in pioneering the OPMA’s Young Professionals Committee as its Chair. He was also awarded the OPMA’s Fresh Award in 2021 for being an up-and-coming leader in the produce industry.   Ariel Nevado is a Senior Buyer of Produce at Metro Inc. Nevado has over 40 years of experience in the produce industry. His vast experience with all aspects of the produce business provides him with unique perspective that will allow him to positively contribute to the OPMA.   Dustin Wellman is a Regional Sales Manager at Wonderful Sales, with over 20 years experience in the produce industry spanning various aspects. He currently sits on the Wonderful Sales Canadian Leadership Team and is actively involved in product design for the Canadian market.   Agnes Boutros is an Account Manager at Mastronardi Produce Ltd, with over 8 years experience in the produce industry. She will be an asset to the OPMA Board in the areas of marketing, industry influence, strategy development, and management.   The four Directors retiring from the Board are: Michael Borcsok from Greenhouse Juice; Rebecca Compton from Aparagus Farmers of Ontario; Shreenivas Shellikeri from Nature Fresh Farms; and Houman Mandani from Metro Ontario Inc.   At the meeting, Todd Patterson, the OPMA Chair, congratulated the new Board members and thanked the retiring Directors for their years of service to the association and to the industry.   “Over the next year, the OPMA will be developing our 2023 – 2025 strategic plan. Government relations will be high on the Board’s list of priorities,” said Patterson. -30- 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.   For more information contact: Rochelle Roye Marketing and Communications Manager

  • New Retail Market Annual Report Shows Produce Sales Grew in 2021

    Toronto, ON – March 10, 2022 – The new Retail Market Annual Report produced by the Ontario Produce Marketing Association (OPMA) shows that melons, cut fruit, and specialty fruit such as kiwifruit, persimmon and pomegranate were key drivers of year-over-year sales growth in Ontario retail produce departments in 2021.   “We have seen produce sales increase due to a continued pandemic-related shift away from in-person dining venues that began in 2020. Produce suppliers and retailers continue to adapt and meet the changing needs of Ontario consumers,” said Stephen Reid, OPMA President.   According to the report, fruit outpaced vegetables in sales and tonnage growth, as well as inflation. The fruit market experienced a 2.3% growth year-over-year with stable tonnage at 0.2% – the largest tonnage gain being from stone fruit at 9%. Total inflation for fruit increased by 2.1%, with increases in most categories.   The vegetable market experienced negative growth in sales and tonnage. Total sales growth and tonnage declined by 0.3% and 1.4% respectively, while total inflation on the price per kg for vegetables increased by 1.4%, driven primarily by root vegetables, cooking greens, and field vegetables.   Organic produce outpaced conventional produce on sales growth with organic fruit sales increasing by 3.7% compared to conventional fruit at 2.2%. While organic vegetables sales increased by 4.7%, conventional vegetables declined by 0.6%.   The report identifies many opportunities for both suppliers and retailers. Suppliers can benefi­t from growth in emerging categories like specialty fruit and international vegetables as a means towards filling supply gaps. There are also opportunities for retailers to begin or expand organic choices for consumers in core categories such as berries, bananas, mushrooms and root vegetables.   Mike Mauti, Managing Partner of Execulytics Consulting, noted: “Extraordinary events continue to shape consumer demand in unpredictable ways. Only by closely researching the market could produce professionals across the supply chain have discovered the re-emergence of cut fruit as a growth category or that mushrooms are moving closer towards becoming an organic only category. The market research continues to identify key growth areas for produce suppliers and retailers as the province navigates through supply challenges.” This report is based on NielsenIQ MarketTrack data for fresh produce sold in Ontario grocery banner, mass merchandiser and drug channels for 52 weeks ending October 9th, 2021. 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: Rochelle Roye Marketing and Communications Manager, OPMA        

  • The Ontario Produce Marketing Association Announces New President

    Toronto, ON – February 22, 2022 – The Board of Directors announces Stephen Reid’s appointment as President of The Ontario Produce Marketing Association, effective February 28, 2022.   Stephen Reid joins the OPMA after a long career in progressively senior association executive roles as the Director of Marketing, Public Affairs and Member Services at the Ontario Medical Association, as the Executive Director at the Pharmacist’s Association of Newfoundland and Labrador and most recently, as Executive Director at the Police Association of Ontario. Stephen has led or worked within teams on several pieces of legislation/regulations such as the Police Services Act, presumptive coverage for first responders and expanded scopes of practice for pharmacists.   Stephen is also proud of his contribution as Senior Director for Merchant Marketing at Mastercard Canada that resulted in several key strategic partnerships with many high-profile brands such as WestJet, SportsChek, Fairmont Hotels, President’s Choice Financial and Canadian Tire.   Stephen is currently working towards completing a part-time PhD in communications and government relations. 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

Latest Industry News

  • Greenhouse Cucumbers – Hold the Single-Use Plastic

    June 7, 2022 With the help of Apeel Sciences, Westmoreland Topline Farms will begin shipping greenhouse grown cucumbers without the plastic covering to retailers in the U.S. and Canada starting in June 2022. Apeel and Westmoreland joined forces in 2021 and haven’t looked back, announcing that they are ready to launch commercial volumes of English cucumbers free from single-use plastics for the first time in 35 years. Using materials that exist in peels, seeds, and pulp of all fruit and vegetables, Apeel creates a protective seal that keeps moisture in and oxygen out.  This delays rot and maintains the cucumber’s color and firmness – eliminating the need for single-use plastics. Dino DiLaudo, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Westmoreland-Topline, explains why this is so important. “With us shipping out our Apeel-Protected English Cucumbers to Canadian and American retailers in June, consumers will have a unique opportunity to bring home the refreshing flavour of English cucumbers without the need for single-use plastic, which would end up in a landfill, or even the oceans. Our retail partners are continually challenging us to develop more sustainable packaging for our fresh, greenhouse grown English cucumber, Apeel Sciences has the solution that will allow consumers to move away from single-use plastic covered English Cucumbers without loss of flavour, quality, or shelf life.” Working closely with Bandall Canada, Westmoreland developed a 100% recyclable paper replacement for the triple wrapped English cucumber value pack.  This will negate the need for a second plastic over-wrap and allow the retailer to preserve their value pack items. Apeel’s Vice President of New Products, Ravi Jolly weighed in on the buzz surrounding the new products. “We’re excited to bring Apeel-protected English cucumbers to more consumers through our partnership with Westmoreland-Topline.  With consumers looking for simple ways to shop more sustainably, removing single-use plastics in the produce department just makes sense.  Apeel’s unique plant-based protection keeps cucumbers just as fresh as plastic wrap, resulting in less food waste and less plastic pollution.” Source: Westmoreland Topline Farms press release.

  • Pure Flavor launches commercially grown greenhouse melon

    May 10, 2022 Pure Flavor has launched the fresh produce industry’s first commercial greenhouse-grown melons, which will be branded under the Solara name, said the Leamington, Ontario-based company in a press release. “After many years of research and development, we are excited to bring the first commercially available greenhouse-grown melons to market,” President Jamie Moracci, said in a release. While many varieties had been put through rigorous product testing since the development process began in 2014, the company has homed in on an exclusive variety that is scalable productionwise and checks all the boxes to meet product, brand, retail, foodservice and consumer expectations, according to Pure Flavor. Partnering with Cornell University during the product development process, Pure Flavor’s research and development team gained insights on both product and plant health to help maximize yield and flavor. “Our product trials told us a great deal; we knew that it had to be something special that we could scale commercially to meet the demand. After eight years, we have launched a unique product that our customers are excited about and will breathe new life into the category,” Moracci said. Pure Flavor describes the new Solara melons as “mildly cool, sweet and juicy.” The company added that Solara melons are “the first personal-sized, sustainably grown melons from greenhouses that use just the right amount of light, nutrition and water to deliver the same sweet, tastefully tropical flavor, regardless of the season.” “It’s paradise in the palm of your hand,” Matt Mastronardi, executive vice president, said in the release. “Roughly 500 grams in size, the sweetness and personal size of the Solara melon makes it a great partner with foods like prosciutto, shrimp, basil, mint, pistachios — we are even using the melon as a yogurt and granola snack. The product pairings are endless.” As a single-serve opportunity, Pure Flavor also sees reducing food waste as a key product trait of the Solara melon. Once the melon is sliced in half, it is easy to scoop out the small seed cavity for consumption, said the company. The new personal-sized melons are available in both single and multipack formats. Pure Flavor chose the name “Solara” (Latin for “of the sun”) because it connotes a tropical setting and a “Fresh Taste of Paradise,” which is the slogan Pure Flavor developed for it, said the company. “The consumer-centric brand strategy is simple — it’s the one sitting snack, meal, appetizer, post-workout rehydrator. It’s for me and only me. [It] fits in the palm of my hand … It’s the ‘me’ melon,” Chris Veillon, chief marketing officer, said. Like other products in the Pure Flavor snacking line, the Solara personal-sized melon product launch will be supported with digital content that includes a wide variety of recipes and a detailed “goes well with” feature, said Veillon. “The strategic investment in research and development is done to help grow the industry and help increase fresh produce consumption,” Moracci added. “We are working on more melon varieties and look forward to rolling them out shortly.” Source:

  • High food costs shaping grocery shopping habits and buying patterns, Metro CEO says

    April 22, 2022 Consumers are seeking deals, stocking up on sale items and shopping private label to cut costs. Rapidly rising food prices in Canada are shaping grocery shopping habits and buying patterns as consumers increasingly seek out deals and favour discount retailers, the head of  Metro said Thursday. “The inflationary picture is accelerating and that’s having an impact on consumers,” Metro president and CEO Eric La Flèche told analysts during a call to discuss the company’s second-quarter results. “There’s a search for value and a shift to discount happening.” Sales at the Montreal-based retailer’s discount grocery chains, Super C in Quebec and Food Basics in Ontario, are growing faster than at its conventional stores, such as Metro and Metro Plus, he said. Higher prices are also influencing buying patterns, including the brands consumers buy. For example, Metro’s house brands–Irresistibles, Selection and Life Smart–are posting strong sales as shoppers “trade down” from more expensive brand-name foods, La Flèche said. “Private label is doing really well because it’s great value and a lower price point in general,” he said. Customers are also choosing cheaper cuts of meat and stocking up on sale items. “Whenever ground beef is on sale the volumes are very, very high,” La Flèche said. Metro reported a second-quarter profit of $198.1 million, up from $188.1 million a year earlier, as sales gained 1.9%. The grocery and drugstore retailer said sales totalled $4.27 billion, up from $4.19 billion, as food same-store sales gained 0.8% and pharmacy same-store sales rose 9.4%. Food basket inflation in the quarter ended March 12 neared 5%, up from 3.5% in the previous quarter, the company said. Looking ahead, grocery prices may continue to climb as Metro braces for additional cost increases from vendors. “We’re seeing or hearing from our suppliers … (they) have experienced cost increases over the last several months and we’re hearing noises that there will be more coming,” La Flèche said. Meanwhile, easing government restrictions have encouraged an increase in store traffic and a decrease in the average basket size, as consumers shop more frequently but buy less with each visit. Still, online food sales increased by 6% in the company’s second quarter compared with a year ago, after rising 240% in 2021. The company, which has about 650 drugstores primarily under the Jean Coutu, Brunet, Metro Pharmacy and Drug Basics banners, said its pharmacy sales were buoyed by a 7.7% increase in prescription drugs as well as COVID-related activities such as the distribution of rapid tests. Metro’s drugstores also recorded a 13.3% increase in front-store sales compared with the same quarter a year ago, which was affected by a six-week ban of the sale of non-essential products. In its outlook, Metro said it continues to face higher than normal inflationary pressures and labour shortages which, if prolonged, could put pressure on margins. “The absenteeism caused by COVID is under control,” La Flèche said. “But there is a structural shortage of labour that we are managing with and trying to improve.” Metro has introduced recruiting and retention programs and salary increases to improve its worker shortage, he said. The retailer has also turned to technology to alleviate the labour crunch, rolling out self-checkouts, electronic shelf labels and the automation of its warehouses. Metro said its third-quarter results will be affected by the labour conflict at its distribution centre in Toronto, which started in early April and was resolved a week later. “Being short of product is not good so clearly we lost some sales during a big week, which was the Easter week,” La Flèche said. The company said it has estimated that the direct costs of the strike and the new labour agreement will have a $10 million pre-tax impact on its current quarter. Source:  

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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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