Restaurateurs open up more menu space for locally grown produce

06/15/2010 03:49:06 PM
Jim Offner

High-end restaurants are developing an affinity for locally grown products, said Tony Moro, president of Bradford & District Produce Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Bradford Cooperative Storages, Bradford, Ontario.

“I’m seeing in some of the Toronto fine-dining establishments, products from the Holland Marsh,” Moro said, referring to the production area about 30 miles north of Toronto. “We’re introducing onions and beets in the area. A lot of Chinese oriental vegetables come into the area, as well as a bit going to the places on the border.”

Moro said growers would like to see that business increase, but there has to be a consistent, dependable supply.

“When you put it on the menu, you have to make sure it comes from that place all the time, and that’s hard to do,” he said.

Paul Otter, co-owner, Woodville Farms Ltd., Woodville, Ontario, said he also is seeing more interest from foodservice customers.

“Big-time,” he said. “There’s more and more all the time. They’re always looking for something new nobody has on the menu. With asparagus, they can’t get enough to fill their needs. When strawberries are out, even though California may be cheaper, they buy the (local) berries. They want to have Ontario on their menus. People want to see it there.”

Jamie Reaume, executive director of the Newmarket-based Holland Marsh Growers Association, said the trend toward more homegrown produce on menus is unmistakable.

“They’ll want it from restaurants and wholesalers and guys from the foodservice sector, and that’s a huge market, providing foodservice sector with local food, because that’s what consumers want,” he said. “This is no longer just about retail.”


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