By Fruit and Veg magazine
Produce program will help Canadian farmers grow exotic and traditionally imported fruits and vegetables here in Canada, year round.
By Fruit and Veg magazine
Loblaw Companies Limited has announced that by 2025 it will spend $150 million more each year with Canadian farmers buying local, fresh produce that otherwise would have been imported from around the world.
Given the short Canadian growing season and unique climate conditions, customers are used to eating produce sourced from international growers, often picked before their prime and then trucked thousands of kilometres. As part of the pledge, Loblaw will work directly with local farmers to implement innovative growing methods or plant non-traditional crops, extending the growing season and bringing the “Grown in Canada” label to what were typically imported fruits and vegetables.
“For decades, we have worked with local farmers to feed our national appetite for Canadian-grown food,” said Galen G. Weston, chairman and CEO, Loblaw Companies Limited. “We are applying new resources to accelerate that work, helping Canadian farmers find new opportunities to provide global products and year-round freshness, grown right here at home.”
Loblaw sources more Canadian produce than any other grocer, working with about 300 domestic growers. In season, nearly half of all produce in Loblaw’s various stores – including Loblaws, Zehrs, Real Canadian Superstore, No Frills and others – is Canadian-grown. However, the Canadian growing season is traditionally only a few months, and farmers have focused primarily on a well-established range of crops.
Over the past few years, Loblaw has worked with Canadian farmers to grow a greater variety of products, including multicultural goods not traditionally grown in Canada. As a result, customers can now find bok choy, long eggplant, methi leaf, napa cabbage and okra bearing Grown in Ontario and Grown in Quebec labels. These crops are traditionally grown in Mexico, Dominican Republic and Central America.
Loblaw is also working with Canadian indoor farmers and greenhouses to ensure a steady supply of fresh produce that would otherwise be out-of-season or imported from warmer climates for much of the year.
Through its President’s Choice brand, the company has developed relationships with various greenhouse operations to source Canadian-grown berries from January through December. Additionally, in Newfoundland, where fresh produce often travels long distances to store shelves, the company has introduced a pilot program with a vertical farm operation, bringing unprecedented fresh greens to the region.
“This effort is a large and logical extension of commitments we’ve been making for decades,” said Frank Pagliaro, who leads the produce procurement for Loblaw. “We’re investing in Canadian innovation, supporting local farmers, extending shelf life to offer fresher goods, serving new tastes, and helping the environment by reducing food waste and the carbon footprint generated by international shipments. And, our customer love every one of these details.”