Multiple growing regions give year-round coverage

12/18/2009 03:46:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Whether product comes from  Canada, Mexico or the U.S., the fact that there are three regions to meet North American demand for greenhouse vegetables equals year-round category coverage, with Mexico continuing to lead the way in new acreage.

For Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group, it’s all about keeping a balance among the three growing regions it sources from.

The company ships conventional peppers and tomatoes and organic tomatoes and cucumbers from British Columbia, with volumes shipping from the region from February to November and peaking in the summer, said Aaron Quon, the company’s greenhouse vegetable category manager.

Oppenheimer’s California greenhouse production, with a strong tilt toward tomatoes, also peaks in the summer but is available year-round, Quon said.

And from Mexico, Oppenheimer ships greenhouse peppers year-round, with a January to May peak; cucumbers from October to April, peaking in late fall and winter; and tomatoes from November to July.

“We’re well-balanced from all three regions,” Quon said. “That’s where you need to be now — a strong supplier 12 months out of the year.”

At the beginning of 2009, Oppenheimer increased the size of its California greenhouse vegetable deal substantially, with acreage jumping from 85 to 125.

Quon also expects a production jump in greenhouse peppers out of Mexico.

While new greenhouses aren’t being built now in British Columbia, production is expected to increase there for Oppenheimer because of higher yields, Quon said.

And when the economy picks up more, Quon expects new greenhouse acreage in Canada.

“At PMA in Anaheim, there was a lot of buzz around our booth,” Quon said. “It’s because of our strength in the three regions. We’ve reached a critical mass, with a full portfolio 12 months a year.”

Oppenheimer ships only greenhouse-grown product from Mexico, he said.

The company’s Mexican greenhouses are similar to its greenhouses in California and Canada, with the exception that the Mexican houses are made with plastic poly, not glass, to better keep out humidity, Quon said.

Growing Mexican product in greenhouses, not shade houses, is all about providing the company’s customers with consistent product year-round from its three growing regions, Quon said.

“We want to make sure it’s as close to Canadian and U.S. manufacturing as possible,” he said. 
Canadian acreage is holding steady for Leamington, Ontario-based Westmoreland Sales, which plans to market about 250 acres in 2010, similar to 2009, said Dino Dilaudo, sales manager.


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