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Higher vegetable prices result in 1.3 per cent increase in 2019 national sales

Farm-gate prices were up for celery, radishes, rutabagas, turnips, parsnips, and to a lesser extent, watermelon, tomato, cauliflower and broccoli, according to Statistics Canada.


March 4, 2020
By Fruit and Vegetable

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Farmers reported higher yields for beets, beans, peppers and asparagus in 2019. Photo courtesy of High Mowing Organic.

Fruit and vegetable sales were up 1.3 per cent to $2.5 billion in 2019, mainly due to a three per cent increase in the value of vegetables, according to Statistics Canada’s fruit and vegetable production update for 2019.

The farm-gate value of vegetables grown in Canada rose for the ninth consecutive year. In contrast, the farm-gate value of fruits edged down 0.5 per cent.

Farm-gate value is the value received by producers at the point of first transaction, when ownership first changes hands. This value excludes any separately billed costs such as delivery, storage, marketing and administrative.

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A decade of higher yields

Vegetable and fruit yields have trended upwards over the past decade. In 2019, total vegetable yields were up 1.5 per cent from a year earlier and six per cent above the 10-year average. While fruit yields were down one per cent from a year earlier, they remained 13.1 per cent above the 10-year average.

Marked increase in vegetable prices

Total farm-gate value of field vegetables rose three per cent to $1.3 billion in 2019, due to higher yields and prices.

Despite the cold spring in Eastern Canada, asparagus production was up 14.2 per cent to 10.2 million kilograms. In Ontario, Canada’s largest asparagus-producing province, production increased 13.3 per cent to its highest level on record. Nevertheless, asparagus accounted for 3.4 per cent of the total value of vegetables in 2019, well below the value of carrots (10.3 per cent), dry onions (8.5 per cent), tomatoes (8.4 per cent), total cabbage (6.8 per cent) and total lettuce (6.3 per cent).

In Ontario, Canada’s largest asparagus-producing province, production increased 13.3 per cent to its highest level on record.

Farm-gate prices were up for celery (+13.2 per cent), regular radishes (+12.8 per cent), rutabagas and turnips (+10.8 per cent) and parsnips (+10.3 per cent). Farmers also received better prices for watermelon (+7.1 per cent), tomatoes (+6.2 per cent), cauliflower (+5.4 per cent) and broccoli (+5.3 per cent).

Farmers reported higher yields for beets (+15.7 per cent), beans (+7.6 per cent), peppers (+6.7 per cent) and asparagus (+6.4 per cent) in 2019. Conversely, yields were down for parsnips (-7.3 per cent) and rutabagas and turnips (-5.0 per cent), likely attributable to inclement weather in October.

Conversely, yields were down for parsnips (-7.3 per cent) and rutabagas and turnips (-5.0 per cent), likely attributable to inclement weather in October.

Total fruit production hampered by difficult growing conditions

The total farm-gate value of fruit edged down 0.5 per cent to $1.2 billion in 2019, mainly due to a 1.8 per cent decline in the quantities sold. The decrease was partially offset by a 1.6 per cent increase in prices.

Farm-gate values were down for sweet cherries (-11.5 per cent) and raspberries (-9.4 per cent), while cranberry (-5.3 per cent), apple (-3.7 per cent) and peach (-2.4 per cent) farmers also reported declines. These declines were attributable to lower yields and less harvested area.

Farm-gate values were down for sweet cherries (-11.5 per cent) and raspberries (-9.4 per cent), while cranberry (-5.3 per cent), apple (-3.7 per cent) and peach (-2.4 per cent) farmers also reported declines.

Apples (20.4 per cent) accounted for just over one-fifth of the total value of fruit in 2019, followed by vinifera grapes (16.7 per cent), high bush blueberries (15.5 per cent), cranberries (11.5 per cent) and strawberries (10.5 per cent).

In British Columbia, production (-41.2 per cent) and farm-gate value (-37.9 per cent) of cranberries fell sharply in 2019, with farmers attributing the decline to a milder winter during which plants never entered full dormancy. Conversely, cranberry farmers in Quebec reported higher production (+15.8 per cent) and farm-gate values (+13.3 per cent).

In British Columbia, production (-41.2 per cent) and farm-gate value (-37.9 per cent) of cranberries fell sharply in 2019, with farmers attributing the decline to a milder winter during which plants never entered full dormancy.

The production of apples, strawberries, sweet cherries, nectarines, peaches, raspberries, and Saskatoon berries were all down from a year earlier. Weather conditions were a challenge for fruit producers across the country, marked by a shorter spring and fall season, an extremely cold winter in Western Canada and the impact of Hurricane Dorian in Nova Scotia.

Weather conditions were a challenge for fruit producers across the country, marked by a shorter spring and fall season.

In contrast, high bush blueberry (+20.8 per cent) and sour cherry (+20.3 per cent) production rose by one-fifth, while vinifera grape production increased four per cent. Winemakers in British Columbia and Ontario were expecting 2019 to produce a good vintage because of favourable grape growing conditions.