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.
Westmoreland, which has customers in the western U.S. and in western Canada, will ship seedless cucumbers and mini-cucumbers on a limited basis through January, with production picking up in February, Dilaudo said.
The company will begin marketing tomatoes and peppers in March, with volumes expected by mid- to late March, he predicted.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the continent, Ciruli Bros. LLC, Nogales, Ariz., is bringing in greenhouse cucumbers and Italian specialty eggplants from Mexico, said Chris Ciruli, a partner in the company.
Eggplant volumes are expected to peak in January and February and will ship into May, Ciruli said. The company’s cucumber deal should run from October to June.
The week of Dec. 21, Ciruli Bros. planned to begin bringing in greenhouse-grown colored bell peppers and round and roma tomatoes from the Culiacan growing region of Mexico, with some light volumes expected for Christmas and New Year’s, Ciruli said.
Ciruli Bros. expects to bring in about 1 million boxes of greenhouse tomatoes and 300,000 boxes of colored bells this season, similar to last season’s totals, Ciruli said.
Coachella, Calif.-based Prime Time International began importing greenhouse colored bells from the Jalisco region of Mexico in October, said Jeff Taylor, salesman.
Volumes are peaking in November and December and expected to wind down in January and February, Taylor said. The company also has a Baja California greenhouse bell deal that starts at the end of October and peaks in November and December.
Taylor expected similar volumes this season as in the 2008-09 season.