Statistical Overview of the Canadian Greenhouse Vegetable Industry, 2020

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Prepared by:
Crops and Horticulture Division
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
December 2021

Overview

Canada has a technologically advanced indoor agriculture sector with long-standing success in the global marketplace. This sector is an important part of Canadian agriculture and a source of significant economic activity within Canada, contributing $1.8 billion in farm gate sales and approximately $1.4 billion in exports in 2020.

Greenhouse farming produces agricultural products in self-contained ‘controlled environments’ with systems supplying heat, water, and nutrients, and often employing artificial lighting (in addition to sunlight) to nourish the plants. This method of farming requires investment in infrastructure and a strong understanding of the technology. In the early 1990s, Canada emerged as the leading producer of greenhouse products in North America.

The vegetable greenhouse industry is primarily clustered near the southern border, notably the Fraser Valley region in BC, Southern Ontario, and Quebec.  These locations are in proximity to large consumer markets, transportation networks, and favourable growing conditions.  In 2020, there were a total of 837 commercial greenhouse vegetable operations in Canada that produced 679,465 metric tons of vegetables. Ontario continued to lead the greenhouse vegetable sector in 2020, representing 71% of the total production in Canada, followed by British Columbia and Quebec, with 16% and 6% respectively. Other provinces accounted for the remaining 1%.

Canadian producers have made significant capital investments in high-tech greenhouses to meet the increasing demand for fresh vegetables year-round. Today, the majority of Canadian greenhouse facilities are highly automated with growers typically investing in the latest technology available. Growers are continuously seeking to obtain improved and advanced technology to increase production efficiency, reduce labour costs/inputs, and enhance product quality. These innovative technologies have allowed farmers to extend the natural harvest seasons and fueled continuous efficiency gains, which in turn, has increased their competitiveness and improved product quality.

Canada’s largest greenhouse vegetable trade partner is the United States. In 2020, the value of exports to the United States accounted for over 99% of all Canadian greenhouse vegetable exports. Canadian greenhouse vegetables are available in Canadian and U.S. markets from early spring through to late fall.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic coincided with the beginning of the peak harvest of the 2020 crop, making  it a particularly challenging year for the greenhouse industry along the full supply chain. As a result, greenhouse facilities in Canada faced business disruptions due to outbreaks of the virus and public health mandated closures of production facilities in 2020. Despite these challenges, greenhouse production increased 3% in 2020 due to higher consumer demand. While the sector proved to be resilient, concerns regarding the availability and access to agricultural labour for the 2020 crop and related worker housing issues persisted throughout the year.

1. Production

Farmers who produce greenhouse vegetables tend to specialize in producing one type of vegetable. Greenhouse growers produce indoor crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, bell-peppers, green/yellow beans, eggplant and various herbs and microgreen vegetables. Of these commodities, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers are by far the principle greenhouse vegetable crops grown in Canada.

Greenhouse vegetables are scheduled so that new plants come into production when domestic field crops are still months away. Around early December, after an annual complete cleaning of the greenhouse facility and removal of all previous plant material, new plantlets are brought in from plant propagators and placed evenly along rows of growing media. In mid-winter, as days start getting longer, the plants enter a productive cycle which continues through the summer and fall. In late November or December, when natural light levels are near their lowest and heating costs are highest, production stops and the annual clean-out/sterilization of the greenhouse starts again in preparation for the next growing cycle. For plants requiring pollination such as tomatoes, boxes of bumblebees are placed in the greenhouse for the season. Canada is in peak production from April to October.

In 2020, with approximately 837 commercial greenhouse vegetable operations, harvested area rose 2% to 18.1 million square metres from the previous year while the production increased 3% to 679,465 metric tons. Tomatoes accounted for 34% and 38% of the harvested area and total production respectively, followed by cucumbers (with 28% and 36%) and peppers (33% and 22%), respectively. Ontario continued to lead the greenhouse vegetable production in 2020, representing 71% of the total production in Canada, followed by British Columbia and Quebec, with 16% and 6% respectively.

Total farm gate sales of greenhouse fruit and vegetables rose 12% from $1.6 billion in 2019 to over $1.8 billion in 2020, mostly due to higher prices. While tomato production volume fell by 3% in 2020, it increased in value by 12% (from $594 million in 2019 to $666 million in 2020). Greenhouse cucumbers and bell pepper farm gate values also increased by 9% and 7% respectively in 2020. However, total greenhouse vegetable operating expenses rose 13% from $1.259  billion in 2019 to $1.4 billion in 2020.

1.1. Number of greenhouse vegetable operations[1] by province

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020 %
Share
Atlantic provinces[2] 52 52 51 49 49 5.9%
Quebec 247 250 238 235 230 27.5%
Ontario 323 330 325 315 315 37.6%
Prairie provinces[2] 107 101 102 94 95 11.4%
British Columbia 160 154 150 150 148 17.7%
Canada 894 889 866 843 837 100.0%
Notes:

1. Number of operations represents the number of specialized greenhouse vegetable and fruit operations and includes all other types of enclosed protection used for growing plants, such as rigid insulation, mine shafts, barns and shelters. Mixed operations (vegetables, flowers and plants) are excluded.

2. Provincial breakdowns for Atlantic and Prairie provinces are not shown due to the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0019-01 Estimates of specialized greenhouse operations, greenhouse area, and months of operation

1.2. Harvested area of greenhouse vegetables[1] by province (square metres)

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020 %
Share
Newfoundland and Labrador   647    5,900    6,539    5,340    4,884 0.0%
Prince Edward Island  N/A 13,531 14,935 12,169 20,056 0.1%
Nova Scotia  N/A 83,556 82,265 88,211 78,563 0.4%
New Brunswick   121    4,086    4,617    6,983    5,353 0.0%
Quebec    915,475 1,145,549 1,228,400 1,257,737 1,247,073 6.9%
Ontario  10,972,697  11,670,213  12,194,927  12,524,892  12,995,385 71.9%
Manitoba 496 6,955 8,287 11,484 6,170 0.0%
Saskatchewan 2,003 15,954 17,300 14,706 13,998 0.1%
Alberta    547,626    670,984    719,049    732,695    676,928 3.7%
British Columbia 3,088,435 3,222,661 3,136,709 3,016,166 2,995,119 16.6%
Canada[2] 15,928,094 16,878,194 17,430,846 17,700,845 18,085,974 100.0%
Notes:

1. Includes specialized greenhouse fruits.

2. Totals may not add up as some data was suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act.

N/A: Not available for a specific reference period or suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0456-01 Production and value of greenhouse fruits and vegetables

1.3. Harvested area of greenhouse vegetables[1] by commodity (square metres)

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020 %
Share
Tomatoes 5,990,278 6,356,198 6,579,782 6,346,327 6,063,023 33.5%
Peppers 5,385,939 5,625,383 5,615,729 5,760,318 5,895,708 32.6%
Cucumbers 4,005,746 4,321,832 4,559,877 4,739,726 4,985,780 27.6%
Lettuce 174,696 209,183 236,813 417,302 432,272 2.4%
Strawberries  N/A  N/A  N/A  N/A 318,003 1.8%
Eggplants   90,123 109,631 110,519 121,641 137,450 0.8%
Fine herbs   26,922   90,429   69,737 103,655 115,880 0.6%
Microgreens and shoots  N/A   16,773   69,479   61,663   56,846 0.3%
Other fruits or vegetables 194,393   85,214 131,831   97,715   35,204 0.2%
Chinese vegetables   55,471   48,740   43,396   37,850   30,979 0.2%
Beans (green and wax)    4,526    6,630    6,998    8,914   10,499 0.1%
Sprouts  N/A 8,181    6,685    5,734    4,330 0.0%
Total 15,928,094 16,878,194 17,430,846 17,700,845 18,085,974 100.0%
Notes:

1. Includes specialized greenhouse fruits.

N/A: Not available for a specific reference period.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0456-01 Production and value of greenhouse fruits and vegetables

1.4. Greenhouse vegetable[1] production by province – by volume (metric tons)

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020 %
Share
Newfoundland and Labrador 3 8 14 28 27 0.0%
Prince Edward Island N/A 2 448 407 679 0.1%
Nova Scotia 1,248 2,914 2,872 3,147 2,812 0.4%
New Brunswick 1 N/A 45 301 76 0.0%
Quebec 27,938 38,772 41,333 41,027 42,455 6.2%
Ontario 424,451 438,680 452,009 462,661 481,763 70.9%
Manitoba 3 186 205 218 190 0.0%
Saskatchewan 22 224 209 187 190 0.0%
Alberta 23,150 33,170 37,161 40,391 41,382 6.1%
British Columbia 90,881 120,864 123,000 110,841 109,392 16.1%
Canada[2] 604,990 636,723 660,259 659,623 679,466 100.0%

Notes:

1. Includes specialized greenhouse fruits.

2. Totals may not add up as some data was suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act.

N/A: Not available for a specific reference period or suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0456-01 Production and value of greenhouse fruits and vegetables

1.5. Greenhouse vegetable[1] production by commodity – by volume (metric tons)

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020 %
Share
Tomatoes 271,006 279,494 279,433 264,737 256,361 37.7%
Cucumbers 189,704 206,227 228,764 231,751 243,897 35.9%
Peppers 135,657 139,060 139,153 145,870 152,661 22.5%
Lettuce 4,876 6,256 7,049 11,843 15,127 2.2%
Strawberries N/A N/A N/A N/A 4,894 0.7%
Eggplants 2,904 3,456 3,476 3,141 3,968 0.6%
Fine herbs 219 755 572 938 1,196 0.2%
Microgreens and shoots  N/A 164 919 594 582 0.1%
Sprouts  N/A 776 405 337 343 0.1%
Chinese vegetables 587 495 442 368 295 0.0%
Beans (green and wax) 36 40 47 45 142 0.0%
Total 604,990 636,723 660,259 659,623 679,466 100.0%

Notes:

1. Includes specialized greenhouse fruits.

N/A: Not available for a specific reference period.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0456-01 Production and value of greenhouse fruits and vegetables

1.6. Farm gate value of greenhouse vegetables[1] by province (thousands of Canadian dollars)

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020 %
Share
Newfoundland and Labrador    42 141    94 153 163 0.0%
Prince Edward Island  N/A 8 1,897 1,902 2,194 0.1%
Nova Scotia 8,012 7,516 4,793 9,503 8,235 0.4%
New Brunswick    29 115 189 1,085 737 0.0%
Quebec    98,861   128,839   143,496   146,811   141,948 7.7%
Ontario   859,787   917,857   955,527   1,067,388   1,209,321 65.9%
Manitoba    82 975 1,201 1,529 1,112 0.1%
Saskatchewan 715 708 1,415 1,028 1,200 0.1%
Alberta    54,689    69,386    81,003    96,362   116,691 6.4%
British Columbia   294,435   289,930   296,885   306,335   316,558 17.3%
Canada[2] 1,331,163 1,437,089 1,512,118 1,633,553 1,833,876 100.0%

Notes:

1. Includes specialized greenhouse fruits.

2. Totals may not add up as some data was suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act.

N/A: Not available for a specific reference period or suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0456-01 Production and value of greenhouse fruits and vegetables

1.7. Farm gate value of greenhouse vegetables[1] by commodity (thousands of Canadian dollars)

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020 %
Share
Tomatoes 537,032 555,196 569,574 594,072 665,948 36.3%
Cucumbers 336,050 395,760 443,018 473,549 518,159 28.3%
Peppers 409,980 421,873 428,451 477,680 512,364 27.9%
Lettuce    27,366    32,036    33,941    50,003    63,963 3.5%
Strawberries  N/A  N/A  N/A  N/A    35,099 1.9%
Eggplants 7,757    11,531    11,727    11,725    15,178 0.8%
Fine herbs 3,559 8,576 7,066    10,344    12,154 0.7%
Microgreens and shoots  N/A   3,585 8,384 5,764 5,601 0.3%
Other fruits or vegetables 7,839 6,047 7,459 8,190 2,536 0.1%
Sprouts  N/A 993 1,014 898 1,066 0.1%
Beans (green and wax) 353 313 406 399 924 0.1%
Chinese vegetables 1,226 1,180 1,076 930 884 0.0%
Total 1,331,163 1,437,089 1,512,118 1,633,553 1,833,876 100.0%

Notes:

1. Includes specialized greenhouse fruits.

N/A: Not available for a specific reference period.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0456-01 Production and value of greenhouse fruits and vegetables

2. Trade

Greenhouse vegetable imports and exports continue to show a healthy positive trade balance of about $1 billion. In 2020, Canadian marketers exported almost 394 thousand metric tons of greenhouse vegetables, equivalent to 57% of total production, worth $1.4 billion, while importing around $369 million worth of greenhouse products, mostly in the winter season when domestic production is at its lowest.

The value of greenhouse vegetable exports is the highest of all fresh produce (fruits, greenhouse vegetables, mushrooms, field vegetables, and potatoes) in Canada, accounting for 47% of all fresh produce exports. The United States is Canada’s main export destination for greenhouse vegetables. In 2020, the value of exports to the United States accounted for over 99% of all Canadian greenhouse vegetable exports.

In 2020, the top import countries were Mexico and the United States, representing 87%, and 10%. In terms of value, peppers are the largest imported commodity, followed by tomatoes and cucumbers.

2.1. Canadian greenhouse vegetable trade balance (thousands of Canadian dollars)

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Exports 862,769 964,121   1,001,686   1,107,800   1,396,455
Imports 460,392 383,735 332,631 331,123 368,735
Trade balance
(exports - imports)
402,377 580,386 669,055 776,676 1,027,720
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, May 2021)

2.2. Exports

2.2.1. Canada’s greenhouse vegetable exports by commodity – by value (thousands of Canadian dollars)

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020 %
Share
Peppers   317,935   331,568   352,709   420,415   508,985 36.4%
Tomatoes   341,598   391,123   368,422   385,558   507,964 36.4%
Cucumbers and gherkins   203,236   241,431   280,554   301,827   379,506 27.2%
Total 862,769 964,121 1,001,686 1,107,800 1,396,455 100.0%
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, May 2021)

2.2.2. Canada’s greenhouse vegetable exports by commodity – by volume (metric tons)

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020 %
Share
Tomatoes   140,083   152,617   138,129   138,555   144,563 37.6%
Cucumbers and gherkins 96,310   104,038   114,221   118,592   130,369 34.0%
Peppers 83,114 83,582 83,288 94,022   109,054 28.4%
Total 319,507 340,237 335,638 351,169 383,986 100.0%
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, May 2021)

2.2.3. Canada’s greenhouse vegetable exports by province – by value (thousands of Canadian dollars)

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020 %
Share
Prince Edward Island 7 0 0 0 0 0.0%
Nova Scotia 1 0 2 2 1 0.0%
New Brunswick 8 2 3 6 17 0.0%
Quebec 6,970 11,616 17,789 18,549 19,414 1.4%
Ontario 684,573 788,194 819,805 920,159 1,161,427 83.2%
Manitoba 0 0 6 8 0 0.0%
Alberta 620 4,687 9,484 4,725 3,364 0.2%
British Columbia 170,591 159,622 154,597 164,351 212,231 15.2%
Total 862,769 964,121 1,001,686 1,107,800 1,396,455 100.0%
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, May 2021)

2.2.4. Canada’s greenhouse vegetable exports by province – by volume (metric tons)

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020 %
Share
Prince Edward Island 2 0 0 0 0 0.0%
Nova Scotia 0 0 1 1 0 0.0%
New Brunswick 2 1 1 2 5 0.0%
Quebec 4,394 4,906 5,188 4,839 5,378 1.4%
Ontario 264,352 283,369 283,051 296,983 325,325 84.7%
Manitoba 0 0 6 3 0 0.0%
Alberta 354 2,263 4,376 2,570 1,204 0.3%
British Columbia 50,402 49,699 43,017 46,773 52,073 13.6%
Total 319,507 340,237 335,638 351,169 383,986 100.0%
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, May 2021)

2.2.5. Canada’s top greenhouse vegetable export destinations – by value (thousands of Canadian dollars)

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020 %
Share
United States 858,359 958,155 994,815 1,102,403 1,390,634 99.6%
Japan 3,456 4,718 5,841 4,172 5,290 0.4%
Taiwan 513 673 641 794 407 0.0%
Jamaica 0 0 0 0 69 0.0%
Hong Kong 373 464 373 392 26 0.0%
Others 68 110 15 39 28 0.0%
Total 862,769 964,121 1,001,686 1,107,800 1,396,455 100.0%
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, May 2021)

2.2.6. Canada’s top greenhouse vegetable export destinations – by volume (metric tons)

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020 %
Share
United States 318,059 338,372 333,565 349,533 382,094 99.5%
Japan 1,139 1,483 1,753 1,250 1,716 0.4%
Taiwan 164 208 203 256 136 0.0%
Jamaica 0 0 0 0 23 0.0%
Hong Kong 112 142 113 119 8 0.0%
Others 34 33 4 12 8 0.0%
Total 319,507 340,237 335,638 351,169 383,986 100.0%
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, May 2021)

2.2.7. Greenhouse vegetable destinations by commodity – by value (thousands of Canadian dollars)

    2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Peppers United States 317,559 330,817 351,893 419,512 508,325
Japan 15 337 574 672 623
Hong Kong 316 277 213 203 16
Saint-Pierre and Miquelon 2 1 3 6 14
France 14 8 10 12 6
Total 317,935 331,568 352,709 420,415 508,985
Tomatoes United States 337,592 385,920 362,397 381,081 502,847
Japan 3,442 4,381 5,267 3,500 4,633
Taiwan 503 630 626 790 407
Hong Kong 51 175 132 175 8
France 0 0 0 0 0
Total 341,595 391,123 368,422 385,557 507,894
Cucumbers and gherkins United States 203,208 241,418 280,524 301,810 379,462
Japan 0 0 0 0 34
Saint-Pierre and Miquelon 0 1 1 1 3
Hong Kong 7 11 28 14 3
China 0 0 0 0 3
Total 203,236 241,431 280,554 301,827 379,506
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, May 2021)

2.2.8. Greenhouse vegetable destinations by commodity – by volume (metric tons)

    2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Tomatoes United States 138,767 150,961 136,275 137,155 142,877
Japan 1,135 1,397 1,613 1,085 1,525
Taiwan 161 196 199 255 135
Hong Kong 16 58 43 55 3
France 0 0 0 0 0
Total 140,082 152,617 138,129 138,555 144,540
Cucumbers and gherkins United States 96,301 104,034 114,211 118,586 130,354
Japan 0 0 0 0 12
Saint-Pierre and Miquelon 0 0 0 1 1
Hong Kong 2 4 10 6 1
China 0 0 0 0 1
Total 96,310 104,038 114,221 118,592 130,369
Peppers United States 82,990 83,377 83,080 93,792 108,864
Japan 4 86 140 165 180
Hong Kong 93 79 61 58 5
Saint-Pierre and Miquelon 1 0 1 1 4
France 4 2 2 3 2
Total 83,114 83,582 83,288 94,022 109,054
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, May 2021)

2.3. Imports

2.3.1. Canada’s greenhouse vegetable imports by commodity – by value (thousands of Canadian dollars)

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020 %
Share
Peppers 172,910 140,311 138,543 147,434 163,302 44.3%
Tomatoes 239,829 197,474 149,830 134,801 162,169 44.0%
Cucumbers and gherkins 46,885 45,088 43,705 48,486 42,829 11.6%
Lettuce 768 863 553 402 435 0.1%
Total 460,392 383,735 332,631 331,123 368,735 100.0%
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, May 2021)

2.3.2. Canada’s greenhouse vegetable imports by commodity – by volume (metric tons)

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020 %
Share
Tomatoes 83,720 75,506 68,721 59,746 66,979 48.8%
Peppers 45,415 43,567 49,453 47,205 49,126 35.8%
Cucumbers and gherkins 25,305 23,473 23,775 24,197 21,122 15.4%
Lettuce 353 374 181 111 68 0.0%
Total 154,792 142,919 142,131 131,259 137,295 100.0%
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, May 2021)

2.3.3. Top sources of Canada’s greenhouse vegetable imports – by value (thousands of Canadian dollars)

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020 %
Share
Mexico   394,317   338,678   286,268   269,898   320,485  86.9%
United States   41,738   34,167   34,778   42,377   37,176  10.1%
Spain   18,305   5,825   8,139   11,888   4,707  1.3%
Canada    275    357    361   2,736   2,930  0.8%
Netherlands   1,948   1,468   1,434   3,202   2,285  0.6%
Others   3,809   3,240   1,651   1,021   1,153  0.3%
Total 460,392 383,735 332,631 331,123 368,735  100.0 %
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, May 2021)

2.3.4. Top sources of Canada’s greenhouse vegetable imports – by volume (metric tons)

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020 %
Share
Mexico 133,162 127,895 124,857 109,339 120,935 88.1%
United States 14,839 12,196 14,187 16,503 13,270 9.7%
Spain 5,031 1,646 1,928 3,252 1,227 0.9%
Canada 90 99 132 955 1,049 0.8%
Netherlands 597 480 474 857 378 0.3%
Others 1,073 603 553 353 436 0.3%
Total 154,792 142,919 142,131 131,259 137,295 100.0%
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, May 2021)

2.3.5. Greenhouse vegetable import sources by commodity – by value (thousands of Canadian dollars)

    2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Peppers Mexico 144,679 124,743 121,986 122,664 146,973
United States 7,224 6,209 6,390 7,787 6,674
Spain 16,059 5,093 7,478 10,533 4,600
Netherlands 1,529 1,238 1,151 3,120 2,275
Total 172,910 140,311 138,543 147,434 163,302
Tomatoes Mexico 211,696 175,043 126,643 109,683 142,575
United States 27,593 22,017 22,895 24,893 19,031
New Zealand 41 60 101 162 360
Guatemala 98 74 117 0 203
Total 239,829 197,474 149,830 134,801 162,169
Cucumbers and gherkins Mexico 37,932 38,890 37,594 37,535 30,929
United States 6,186 5,102 5,025 9,354 11,131
Canada 34 38 66 66 657
Spain 2,135 720 646 1,351 89
Honduras 0 0 0 44 16
Total 46,885 45,088 43,705 48,486 42,829
Lettuce United States 735 840 468 344 339
South Korea 16 7 24 37 63
Spain 0 12 14 4 18
Mexico 9 2 46 16 8
Netherlands 0 0 0 0 4
Total 768 863 553 402 435
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, May 2021)

2.3.6. Greenhouse vegetable import sources by commodity – by volume (metric tons)

    2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Tomatoes Mexico 73,401 67,488 59,124 49,912 59,997
United States 10,138 7,882 9,500 9,760 6,730
New Zealand 9 20 30 58 190
Guatemala 36 22 37 0 62
Total 83,720 75,506 68,721 59,746 66,979
Peppers Mexico 38,071 39,397 44,377 39,672 44,262
United States 1,994 2,035 2,577 3,012 2,379
Spain 4,047 1,290 1,618 2,594 1,178
Netherlands 381 338 365 805 374
Total 45,415 43,567 49,453 47,205 49,126
Cucumbers and gherkins Mexico 21,686 21,009 21,337 19,744 16,675
United States 2,362 1,913 1,951 3,636 4,099
Canada 14 17 27 38 289
Spain 951 352 308 657 48
Honduras 0 0 0 28 7
Total 25,305 23,473 23,775 24,197 21,122
Lettuce United States 345 366 158 96 60
South Korea 2 2 2 3 4
Spain 0 4 2 1 2
Mexico 5 1 19 12 1
Netherlands 0 0 0 0 0
Total 353 374 181 111 68
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, May 2021)

3. Channels of distribution

Greenhouse products  which offer sustained predictable availability, high quality, and more varieties, have taken a dominant market share in the fresh vegetable markets at the retail level. Greenhouse peppers, cucumbers, and a wide variety of tomatoes (i.e., cluster, grape, cherry) are now widely available at retail throughout Canada and the U.S. throughout the year.

3.1. Channels of distribution for greenhouse vegetable[1] sales and resales[2] (millions of Canadian dollars)

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020 %
Share
Domestic wholesalers 883.8 999.5 1,062.2 1,090.1 1,155.5 63.0%
Mass market chain stores 183.3 156.8 166.1 206.1 264.9 14.4%
Other channels 205.6 214.5 208.1 229.8 264.9 14.4%
Other greenhouses 33.0 46.6 50.2 78.1 107.9 5.9%
Direct sales to the public[3] 25.5 19.6 25.6 29.5 40.7 2.2%
Total sales 1,331.2 1,437.1 1,512.1 1,633.6 1,833.9 100.0%

Notes:

1. Includes specialized greenhouse fruits.

2. Farm gate value (before sales tax).

3. Includes roadside stands and owner-operated retail outlets.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0022-01 Channels of distribution for horticulture product sales and resales

3.2. Channels of distribution for greenhouse vegetable sales and resales, 2016 to 2020

Channels of distribution for greenhouse vegetable sales and resales. Data taken from table 3.1

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0022-01 Channels of distribution for horticulture product sales and resales

4. Operating expenses

Total greenhouse vegetable operating expenses rose 13% from $1.3  billion in 2019 to $1.4 billion in 2020. Payroll is the largest single variable cost facing the greenhouse growers. In 2020, greenhouse operators saw payroll expenses rise over $48 million compared to the previous year.

4.1. Greenhouse vegetable[1],[2] producers’ operating expenses by category (millions of Canadian dollars)

  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2020 %
Share
Gross yearly payroll[3] 309.6 351.3 362.9 386.1 434.6 30.6%
Other operating expenses[4] 341.6 312.1 298.7 305.8 361.3 25.4%
Other crop expenses[5] 169.7 210.4 225.4 247.0 279.0 19.6%
Fuel 134.6 147.0 147.4 146.2 149.0 10.5%
Plant material purchases for growing on[6] 92.7 108.5 118.5 130.9 147.6 10.4%
Electricity[7] 38.9 41.6 42.5 42.9 50.7 3.6%
Total operating expenses 1,087.2 1,170.9 1,195.5 1,259.0 1,422.2 100.0%

Notes:

1. This category excludes mixed operations (vegetables, flowers and plants).

2. Includes specialized greenhouse fruits.

3. Includes seasonal and permanent labour.

4. Includes interest, land taxes, insurance, advertising, repairs to farm buildings, machinery, agricultural equipment and vehicles, contract work, and telephone and telecommunications services.

5. Includes fertilizer, pesticides, pollination, irrigation, containers, packaging, bioprograms, and growing mediums such as soil, peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, sand, Styrofoam and sawdust.

6. Includes value of flowers, plants, cuttings, seedlings, seeds and bulbs purchased (before sales tax).

7. Electricity expenses include electricity for lighting, airflow fans and heating.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0025-01 Specialized greenhouse producers’ operating expenses

5. Labour

Greenhouse vegetable producers rely on both domestic and foreign workers to manage production and employ both seasonal and permanent employees. Seasonal employees work less than eight months during the year, while permanent employees work more than eight months during the year. The total number of employees of specialized greenhouse operations has been relatively stable over the past five years. In 2020, 12,529  people were employed in the greenhouse vegetable sector: 7,484 (or 60%) permanent employees and 5,145 (or 40%) seasonal employees. Ontario accounted for 66% of the total number of greenhouse employees in Canada.

5.1. Total number of employees of specialized greenhouse vegetable operations

    2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Atlantic provinces Seasonal employees[1]   47   81   90   77   37
Permanent employees[2]   56   83   89 119 156
Total employees 103 164 179 196 193
Quebec Seasonal employees[1] 549 463 404 400 303
Permanent employees[2] 758 800 824 789 844
Total employees 1,307 1,263 1,228 1,189 1,147
Ontario Seasonal employees[1] 3,231 3,550 3,694 3,742 3,600
Permanent employees[2] 4,183 4,438 4,352 4,533 4,477
Total employees 7,414 7,988 8,046 8,275 8,077
Prairie provinces Seasonal employees[1] 129 183 161 162 255
Permanent employees[2] 373 669 680 706 726
Total employees 502 852 841 868 981
British Columbia Seasonal employees[1] 846 1,033 980 819 850
Permanent employees[2] 1,311 1,268 1,151 1,205 1,281
Total employees 2,157 2,301 2,131 2,024 2,131
Canada Seasonal employees[1] 4,805 5,310 5,329 5,200 5,045
Permanent employees[2] 6,701 7,254 7,096 7,352 7,484
Total employees 11,506 12,564 12,425 12,552 12,529

Notes:

1. Seasonal employees who worked less than 8 months during the year.

2. Permanent employees who worked more than 8 months during the year.

Source: Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0028-01 Total number of employees of specialized greenhouse operations

6. Key resources

  • Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0456-01 Production and value of greenhouse fruits and vegetables
  • Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0019-01 Estimates of specialized greenhouse operations, greenhouse area, and months of operation
  • Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0028-01 Total number of employees of specialized greenhouse operations
  • Statistics Canada. CATSNET