Canadian farmers’ fruit, vegetable sales up in 2009

Total sales of fruits and vegetables by Canadian farmers amounted to $1.5 billion in 2009, up 3.6 per cent or $50.5 million over 2008, according to Statistics Canada.

Vegetable crops accounted for 53 per cent of the total fruit and vegetable sales, the federal statistics agency said in a release Wednesday.

Vegetable farmers earned $773 million, up 17.8 per cent or $117 million from 2008. This increase was driven by sales gains in the fresh market, especially carrots (+26 per cent), lettuce (+51.6 per cent) and corn (+23.6 per cent).

As is the case historically, about three-quarters of the value of vegetables came from fresh market sales in 2009, while the rest came from sales to processors.

Farmers planted 555,470 acres in fruits and vegetables, up 1.1 per cent from 2008. Production of fruits and vegetables increased 4.6 per cent with most of the gain accounted for by lettuce (+34.9 per cent), carrots (+32.5 per cent) and onions (+30.6 per cent).

Sweet corn, the largest vegetable crop, accounted for more than 20 per cent of the 258,492 acres of vegetables planted in 2009. Green peas were the second  per cent of acreage.

Farmers had 296,978 acres in fruit in 2009, up 2.4 per cent from 2008. Blueberries accounted for 55.1 per cent of this acreage, followed by apples at 16.8 per cent and vinifera grapes at 9.7 per cent. While farmers planted more vinifera grapes and sour cherries in 2009, the area planted for peaches and pears declined, partly because of replanting and transition programs in some provinces.

Fruit sales totalled $685 million for farmers in 2009, down 8.8 per cent or $66 million from 2008. The main factors behind this drop were blueberries, which declined by $52.2 million, and cranberries, which fell by $22 million. In both cases, prices dropped by about one-third and were the contributing factors to the decline in sale values.

Fruit production in 2009 was virtually unchanged, although production of cranberries rose by 15,444 tons or 19.3 per cent, while that of blueberries increased by 8,380 tons or 7.9 per cent.

Farmers in two provinces, Ontario and Quebec, accounted for more than 80 per cent of vegetable sales. The vast majority of fruit sales came from three provinces: British Columbia (36.2 per cent), Ontario (32.2 per cent) and Quebec (22.2 per cent).

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