Mexico, China make inroads in Canada - The Packer

Mexico, China make inroads in Canada

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

Slobodzian said the weaker Canadian currency wasn’t necessarily reducing demand for imports.

“Most of our costing is done weekly and we take the exchange rate into account,” he said.

Most imports purchased — whether from the U.S. or any other country — are based on the U.S. dollar, he said.

The weaker Canadian dollar definitely helps Canadian exporters move their produce to the U.S., said John Vanderzwaag, operations manager with Toronto, Ontario-based Groenewegen & Sons Produce Sales Ltd. “It makes it a lot easier to get orders to move potatoes and onions to the U.S. for sure,” he said.

Among other suppliers, China accounted for 4% of Canadian vegetable and tuber imports in 2013, about the same as 2009. The value of Canadian imports of Chinese vegetables surged 40% between 2009 and 2013, according to government of Canada statistics.

Dave Flynn, buyer for The Calgary, Alberta-based buyer for The Produce People Ltd., said the company handled some broccoli crowns from China about two years ago. “They made the ride pretty well, but on a day to day basis I’m not so sure I would want to do that,”he said. California broccoli can be supplied more frequently on a fresher basis. “You want good strong turns on all your vegetables or fruits but China would just be too long (in transit),” he said.

Slobodzian said there is some Chinese produce at the retail shelves, though not all retailers will stock it.

Selected smaller suppliers of vegetables and tubers to Canada that saw increases of more than 50% in import value between 2009 and 2013 were Guatemala (63%), Dominican Republic (143%), Honduras (68%), Costa Rica (71%), Australia (243%),

Canadian imports of fruits and edible nuts tallied $4.5 billion in 2013, up 43% from $3.14 billion in 2009. The U.S. market share of all fruit and edible nut imports was 50% in 2013, unchanged from 2009.

As with vegetables, Mexico increased in importance as a supplier of fruit to Canada. Mexico accounted for 11% of all Canadian fruit and nut imports in 2013, up from 9% in 2009.

Canadian imports of Mexican fruit and edible nuts rose 80% between 2009 and 2013.

Chile accounted for 4% of Canadian fruit and nut imports in 2013, the same share as in 2009, and Costa Rica’s share of 4% in 2013 was also unchanged from 2009.

The U.S. did increase its market share for fresh grapes, commanding 47% of Canada’s total imports of $439 million in 2013, up from 45% in 2009. Chile saw its share of Canada’s fresh grape purchases drop from 39% in 2009 to 37% in 2013. Mexico’s share of Canadian grape purchases dropped from 11% in 2009 to 9% in 2013. Peru increased its market share of the Canadian grape market from 1% in 2009 to 5% in 2013.

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