Pickles and promise: Ontario’s processing vegetable industry sees new investment

Ontario’s vegetable processing industry has certainly faced its share of challenges in the last few years, but Cathy Lennon, general manager with Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers, says that there are also some great news stories of companies investing and expanding in the province.

Lennon, whose organization represents over 380 tomato, cucumber, carrot, squash (and more!) growers, says that at least two vegetable processing companies have recently announced significant plans for the Tecumseh and Wallaceburg areas.

RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney sat down with Lennon at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show to get the goods on Ontario’s processing vegetable market, a market that includes frozen, pickled, and canned vegetables, as well as vegetable-based foods.

“Companies are looking at Ontario as having the right climate, the right soil, the right expertise, and processing (vegetables) as close to home as possible just makes sense,” Lennon says.

Lennon adds that unlike broadacre commodities, storability of processing vegetables is essentially nil. “When those tomatoes come out of the field, they have a home. Even before the crop goes in the ground the farmer knows how much they need to produce, the delivery date, and what they’ll get paid before the seed even goes in the ground,” she says.

Listen below as Lennon and Haney discuss the challenges of growing processing vegetables, from new farmers coming online, to access to crop protection products, and more: 

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