Mexico, China make inroads in Canada

03/27/2014 11:52:00 AM
Tom Karst

 The U.S. is still the dominant supplier of fruits and vegetables to Canada, but the newest trade statistics show Mexico, China and a few other countries are growing their market share.

Government of Canada statistics show that the country’s total vegetable and tuber imports in 2013 totaled $2.8 billion ($US), up 32% from $2.13 billion in 2009.

The U.S. accounted for 65% of Canada’s vegetable and tuber imports in 2013, down from 69% in 2009.

On the other hand, Mexico’s market share of Canadian vegetable imports rose from 18% in 2009 to 23% in 2013, according to Canadian trade statistics. The total value growth in Canada’s imports of Mexican vegetables between 2009 and 2013 topped 60%.

Fresh tomatoes saw a significant decline in the U.S. share of Canada’s imports in the last five years, with an offsetting rise in Mexico’s tomato value shipped to Canada.

Canada’s total fresh tomato imports of $301.9 million were up 20%, compared with imports of $252 million in 2009.

However, the U.S. market share of Canada’s total tomato import value declined from 48% in 2009 to just 35% in 2013. On the other hand, Mexico’s market share of Canadian fresh tomato imports rose from 49% in 2009 to 64% in 2013.

While the value of Canadian imports of U.S. tomatoes dropped 14% in those five years, the value of Canadian imports of Mexican tomatoes soared 57% in the same period.

“Certainly we are seeing more tomatoes, product of Mexico, in western Canada than in the past,” said Paul Slobodzian, chief produce officer for Krown Produce Inc., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, “So many people rely on Mexican product coming through Nogales this time of year for the ease and consistency,

“It’s a three- to four-day ride and they have their product up here,” he said.

That trend applies to field tomatoes and greenhouse tomatoes in the winter marketing window, he said.

However, local Canadian greenhouses have started to produce tomatoes in a light way by late March and Slobodzian said that Canadian greenhouse tomatoes will replace Mexican greenhouse tomatoes by May, he said. Imported field grown tomatoes also will transition from Mexico to California this spring, he said.

Canada’s currency has weakened in the last year, helping Canada’s exports but causing imports to cost more. The Canadian dollar was on par with U.S. dollar about a year ago, but now only trades at 89 cents U.S., or about 10% weaker than a year ago.


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