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Statistical Overview of the Canadian Greenhouse Vegetable Industry, 2017

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Overview

The Canadian greenhouse vegetable sector is the largest and fastest growing segment of Canadian horticulture. 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 largest producer of greenhouse products in North America. The United States and Mexico later become important greenhouse producers.

Canada’s greenhouse industry produces tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, green beans, eggplants and various herbs and microgreen vegetables. Of these commodities, tomatoes, cucumber and peppers are the main greenhouse vegetable crops grown in Canada.

In 2017, there were a total of 887 commercial greenhouse vegetable operations with 17 million square metres of production area which produced over 634,000 metric tonnes of vegetables. There has been a steady increase in greenhouse vegetable production in Canada and it is anticipated that acreages in greenhouse vegetable production will continue the multi-decade trend of growth. Ontario continued to lead the greenhouse vegetable sector in 2017, representing 69% of the total production and harvested area in Canada, followed by British Columbia and Quebec with 19% and 6%, respectively.

The farm gate value (FGV)Footnote1 of Canada’s greenhouse vegetables in 2017 was over $1.4 billion, which was 7% higher than in 2016 and 17% higher than in 2013. Tomatoes accounted for 39% ($557 million) of the total greenhouse vegetable FGV, followed by peppers and cucumbers, which accounted for 30% ($422 million) and 27% ($383 million), respectively.

Canadian greenhouse vegetable farms use both seasonal and permanent employees. Seasonal employees are employees who 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 2017, 12,568 people were employed in the greenhouse vegetable sector: 7,258 permanent employees and 5,310 seasonal employees. Ontario itself accounted for 64% of the total number of greenhouse operation employees in Canada.

The value of greenhouse vegetable exports is the highest of all fresh produce (fruits, vegetables and potatoes) in Canada, accounting for 42% of all fresh produce exports. The total value of Canada’s greenhouse vegetable exports grew for the fifth consecutive year, up 33% from 2013 to a record $964 million in 2017. Tomatoes accounted for 41% of the total value of exports, followed by peppers with 34%. The United States has been Canada’s main export destinations for greenhouse vegetables for the past five years. In 2017, the value of exports to the United States accounted for 99% of all Canadian greenhouse vegetable exports.

In 2017, Canada imported $384 million worth of greenhouse vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and lettuce). The top two greenhouse vegetable import sources were Mexico, accounting for 88% and the United States, accounting for 9%. Tomatoes (51%) are the largest imported commodity, followed by peppers (37%) and cucumbers (12%).

1. Production

1.1. Number of greenhouse vegetable operations1 by province

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Atlantic provinces2 55 52 54 52 52
Quebec 235 240 242 247 250
Ontario 305 310 315 323 330
Prairie provinces2 90 95 100 107 101
British Columbia 135 140 150 160 154
Canada 820 837 861 894 887

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. Due to confidentiality reasons, provincial breakdowns for Atlantic and Prairie provinces are not shown.

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 by province (square metres)

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Newfoundland and Labrador 3,390 3,235 5,132 647 5,900
Prince Edward Island 1,236 1,398 x x 13,531
Nova Scotia 63,959 67,577 77,992 x 83,556
New Brunswick x x 5,042 121 4,086
Quebec 974,967 890,937 951,534 915,475 1,145,549
Ontario 9,536,954 9,648,346 10,061,143 10,972,697 11,668,355
Manitoba 6,595 835 5,245 496 6,955
Saskatchewan 15,250 12,978 14,139 2,003 15,954
Alberta 541,095 530,301 544,222 547,626 640,512
British Columbia 2,954,000 3,014,962 2,881,096 3,088,435 3,258,893
Canada 14,159,525 14,216,767 14,592,933 15,928,094 16,882,095

x: Too unreliable to be published or suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics Act.

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

1.3. Harvested area of greenhouse vegetables by province – percent share, 2017

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Harvested area of greenhouse vegetables by province – percent share

  • Ontario: 69%
  • British Columbia: 19%
  • Quebec: 7%
  • Others: 5%

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

1.4. Harvested area of greenhouse vegetables by commodity (square metres)

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Tomatoes 5,626,971 5,540,993 5,513,837 5,990,278 6,325,725
Peppers 4,887,045 4,951,041 4,940,683 5,385,939 5,625,383
Cucumbers 3,462,183 3,544,039 3,739,159 4,005,746 4,358,064
Lettuce 183,326 180,694 187,343 174,696 209,183
Eggplants - - - 90,123 109,631
Herbs - - - 26,922 88,571
Other fruits or vegetables - - 211,911 194,393 85,214
Chinese vegetables - - - 55,471 48,740
Microgreens and shoots - - - - 16,773
Sprouts - - - - 8,181
Beans (green and wax) - - - 4,526 6,630
Total1 14,159,525 14,216,767 14,592,933 15,928,094 16,882,095

Note:

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

- : Not available or too unreliable to be published.

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

1.5. Harvested area of greenhouse vegetables by province – percent share, 2017

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Harvested area of greenhouse vegetables by commodity – percent share

  • Tomatoes: 38 %
  • Peppers: 33 %
  • Cucumbers: 26 %
  • Others: 3 %

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

1.6. Greenhouse vegetable production by province (metric tonnes)

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Newfoundland and Labrador 31 25 10 3 8
Prince Edward Island 1 48 - - 2
Nova Scotia 2,764 2,670 3,090 1,248 2,914
New Brunswick 27 24 29 1 -
Quebec 25,007 24,030 6,110 27,938 38,772
Ontario 408,398 420,341 420,081 424,451 438,674
Manitoba 178 24 152 3 187
Saskatchewan 214 164 189 22 224
Alberta 20,829 22,433 22,195 23,150 31,446
British Columbia 130,325 124,256 14,652 0,881 20,384
Canada2 590,576 596,251 587,825 604,990 634,513

Notes:

1. Does not include lettuce between 2012 and 2015.

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

- : Not available or too unreliable to be published.

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

1.7. Greenhouse vegetable production by province – percent share, 2017

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Greenhouse vegetable production by province – percent share

  • Ontario: 69%
  • British Columbia: 19%
  • Quebec: 6%
  • Alberta:5%
  • Others: 1%

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

1.8. Greenhouse vegetable production by commodity (metric tonnes)

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Tomatoes 282,809 280,332 261,677 271,006 277,945
Cucumbers 174,534 180,342 186,306 189,704 206,228
Peppers 128,274 130,294 134,644 135,657 139,060
Lettuce 4,959 5,283 5,198 4,876 6,256
Eggplants - - - 2,904 3,281
Sprouts - - - - 776
Chinese vegetables - - - 587 495
Herbs - - - 219 269
Microgreens and shoots - - - - 164
Beans (green and wax) - - - 36 40
Total1 590,576 596,251 587,825 604,990 634,513

Notes:

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

- : Not available for a specific reference period.

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

1.9. Farm gate value of greenhouse vegetables by province (thousands of Canadian dollars)

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Newfoundland and Labrador 125 83 145 42 134
Prince Edward Island 15 155 - - 8
Nova Scotia 7,302 7,503 8,433 8,012 7,516
New Brunswick 111 90 244 29 115
Quebec 82,012 82,678 36,568 98,861 125,539
Ontario 767,501 796,226 831,591 859,787 921,097
Manitoba 703 87 609 82 982
Saskatchewan 1,194 873 1,386 715 708
Alberta 52,275 52,114 53,584 54,689 56,478
British Columbia 299,792 290,743 296,577 294,435 290,980
Canada1 1,218,193 1,238,667 1,295,856 1,331,163 1,425,900

Notes:

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

- : Not available or too unreliable to be published.

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

1.10. Farm gate value of greenhouse vegetables by commodity (thousands of Canadian dollars)

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Tomatoes 516,656 507,098 514,251 537,032 556,556
Peppers 377,330 389,700 420,539 409,980 421,873
Cucumbers 299,170 314,069 316,495 336,050 383,465
Lettuce 25,037 27,800 28,769 27,366 32,067
Eggplants - - - 7,757 10,560
Herbs - - - 3,559 9,249
Other fruits or vegetables - - 15,802 7,839 6,066
Microgreens and shoots - - - - 3,585
Chinese vegetables - - - 1,226 1,180
Sprouts - - - - 993
Beans (green and wax) - - - 353 305
Total 1,218,193 1,238,667 1,295,856 1,331,163 1,425,900

Note:

- : Not available for a specific reference period.

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

2. Labour

2.1. Total number of employees of specialized greenhouse vegetable operations

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Atlantic provinces Seasonal employees1 140 96 63 47 81
Permanent employees2 73 52 58 56 83
Total employees 213 148 121 103 164
Quebec Seasonal employees1 596 496 467 549 463
Permanent employees2 720 698 800 758 800
Total employees 1,316 1,194 1,267 1,307 1,263
Ontario Seasonal employees1 3,714 3,708 3,380 3,231 3,550
Permanent employees2 2,760 2,977 3,400 4,183 4,438
Total employees 6,474 6,685 6,780 7,414 7,988
Prairie provinces Seasonal employees1 104 96 120 129 183
Permanent employees2 438 399 385 373 669
Total employees 542 495 505 502 852
British Columbia Seasonal employees1 1,156 1,058 940 846 1,033
Permanent employees2 1,180 1,387 1,265 1,311 1,268
Total employees 2,336 2,445 2,205 2,157 2,301
Canada Seasonal employees1 5,710 5,454 4,970 4,805 5,310
Permanent employees2 5,171 5,513 5,908 6,701 7,258
Total employees 10,881 10,967 10,878 11,506 12,568

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.

Due to confidentiality reasons, provincial breakdowns for Atlantic and Prairie provinces are not shown.

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

3. Trade

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

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Exports 724,057 730,134 827,500 862,785 964,123
Import 259,224 310,047 369,810 460,392 383,721
Trade Balance
(Exports - Imports)
464,833 420,087 457,689 402,393 580,402
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2018)

3.2. Exports

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

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Tomatoes 315,472 297,957 311,310 341,598 391,123
Cucumbers and gherkins 160,346 162,451 186,242 203,252 241,433
Peppers 248,240 269,726 329,947 317,935 331,568
Total 724,057 730,134 827,500 862,785 964,123

Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2018)

3.2.2. Canada's greenhouse vegetable exports by commodity – volume (metric tonnes)

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Tomatoes 126,869 133,955 125,327 140,083 152,617
Cucumbers and gherkins 77,938 77,485 93,631 96,318 104,038
Peppers 73,858 76,685 82,317 83,114 83,582
Total 278,666 288,125 301,275 319,515 340,237

Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2018)

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

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Prince Edward Island 0 3 0 7 0
Nova Scotia 13 9 3 1 0
New Brunswick 1 2 3 8 2
Québec 5,267 3,238 5,766 6,970 11,616
Ontario 583,889 579,985 654,262 684,589 788,197
Alberta 187 278 378 620 4,687
British Columbia 134,699 146,618 167,087 170,591 159,622
Total 724,057 730,134 827,500 862,785 964,123

Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2018)

3.2.4. Canada's greenhouse vegetable exports by province – volume (metric tonnes)

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Prince Edward Island 0 1 0 2 0
Nova Scotia 4 3 1 0 0
New Brunswick 0 1 1 2 1
Québec 3,786 2,422 4,370 4,394 4,906
Ontario 217,267 232,563 247,821 264,360 283,369
Alberta 115 227 206 354 2,263
British Columbia 57,494 52,909 48,876 50,402 49,699
Total 278,666 288,125 301,275 319,515 340,237

Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2018)

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

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
United States Tomatoes 314,052 297,110 309,363 337,592 385,920
Cucumbers and gherkins 160,337 162,330 186,202 203,224 241,421
Peppers 248,221 269,679 329,693 317,559 330,817
Total 722,610 729,119 825,258 858,375 958,158
Japan Tomatoes 1,265 632 1,539 3,442 4,381
Cucumbers and gherkins 0 2 17 0 0
Peppers 0 0 0 15 337
Total 1,265 635 1,556 3,456 4,718
Taiwan Tomatoes 137 161 261 503 630
Cucumbers and gherkins 0 4 0 0 0
Peppers 0 0 0 10 43
Total 137 165 261 513 673
Hong Kong Tomatoes 6 47 136 51 175
Cucumbers and gherkins 0 6 6 7 11
Peppers 0 6 174 316 277
Total 6 58 316 373 464
India Tomatoes 0 0 0 0 0
Cucumbers and gherkins 0 0 0 0 0
Peppers 0 0 0 0 72
Total 0 0 0 0 72
Other countries Tomatoes 12 7 12 11 16
Cucumbers and gherkins 8 109 17 21 1
Peppers 19 42 80 36 22
Total 40 158 108 68 39
Total Tomatoes 315,472 297,957 311,310 341,598 391,123
Cucumbers and gherkins 160,346 162,451 186,242 203,252 241,433
Peppers 248,240 269,726 329,947 317,935 331,568
Total 724,057 730,134 827,500 862,785 964,123
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2018)

3.2.6. Greenhouse vegetable destinations by commodity – volume (metric tonnes)

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
United States Tomatoes 314,052 297,110 309,363 337,592 385,920
Cucumbers and gherkins 160,337 162,330 186,202 203,224 241,421
Peppers 248,221 269,679 329,693 317,559 330,817
Total 722,610 729,119 825,258 858,375 958,158
Japan Tomatoes 1,265 632 1,539 3,442 4,381
Cucumbers and gherkins 0 2 17 0 0
Peppers 0 0 0 15 337
Total 1,265 635 1,556 3,456 4,718
Taiwan Tomatoes 137 161 261 503 630
Cucumbers and gherkins 0 4 0 0 0
Peppers 0 0 0 10 43
Total 137 165 261 513 673
Hong Kong Tomatoes 6 47 136 51 175
Cucumbers and gherkins 0 6 6 7 11
Peppers 0 6 174 316 277
Total 6 58 316 373 464
India Tomatoes 0 0 0 0 0
Cucumbers and gherkins 0 0 0 0 0
Peppers 0 0 0 0 72
Total 0 0 0 0 72
Other countries Tomatoes 12 7 12 11 16
Cucumbers and gherkins 8 109 17 21 1
Peppers 19 42 80 36 22
Total 40 158 108 68 39
Total Tomatoes 315,472 297,957 311,310 341,598 391,123
Cucumbers and gherkins 160,346 162,451 186,242 203,252 241,433
Peppers 248,240 269,726 329,947 317,935 331,568
Total 724,057 730,134 827,500 862,785 964,123
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2018)

3.3. Imports

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

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Tomatoes 138,271 159,233 194,890 239,829 197,479
Peppers 91,886 108,055 129,741 172,910 140,291
Cucumbers and gherkins 28,076 41,971 44,348 46,885 45,088
Lettuce 841 674 794 721 863
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 150 113 38 47 0
Total 259,224 310,047 369,810 460,392 383,721

Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2018)

3.3.2. Canada's greenhouse vegetable imports by commodity –volume (metric tonnes)

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Tomatoes 64,215 64,192 70,712 83,720 75,506
Peppers 35,074 37,998 38,086 45,415 43,566
Cucumbers and gherkins 18,936 27,157 25,063 25,305 23,473
Lettuce 418 247 284 317 374
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 102 72 27 36 0
Total 118,744 129,666 134,171 154,792 142,918

Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2018)

3.3.3. Greenhouse vegetable import sources – value (thousands of Canadian dollars)

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Tomatoes 64,215 64,192 70,712 83,720 75,506
Peppers 35,074 37,998 38,086 45,415 43,566
Cucumbers and gherkins 18,936 27,157 25,063 25,305 23,473
Lettuce 418 247 284 317 374
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 102 72 27 36 0
Total 118,744 129,666 134,171 154,792 142,918

Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2018)

3.3.4. Greenhouse vegetable import sources – volume (metric tonnes)

  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Mexico Tomatoes 56,937 57,867 63,058 73,401 67,488
Peppers 32,565 33,811 31,908 38,079 39,396
Cucumbers and gherkins 16,071 23,326 20,583 21,686 21,009
Lettuce 1 4 1 4 1
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 3 1 0 0 0
Total 105,577 115,009 115,551 133,170 127,894
United States Tomatoes 6,415 6,062 7,400 10,138 7,882
Peppers 559 921 1,317 1,994 2,035
Cucumbers and gherkins 1,592 2,897 3,151 2,362 1,913
Lettuce 394 237 278 309 366
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 93 68 26 36 0
Total 9,054 10,186 12,172 14,839 12,196
Spain Tomatoes 0 0 14 33 0
Peppers 1,077 1,565 3,722 4,039 1,290
Cucumbers and gherkins 1,162 434 1,149 951 352
Lettuce 0 0 0 0 4
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 0 0 0 0 0
Total 2,240 2,000 4,885 5,023 1,646
Guatemala Tomatoes 650 180 59 36 22
Peppers 40 59 107 96 367
Cucumbers and gherkins 3 0 0 0 0
Lettuce 0 0 0 0 0
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 1 0 0 0 0
Total 693 240 166 132 389
Netherlands Tomatoes 62 0 0 0 1
Peppers 1 1 26 381 338
Cucumbers and gherkins 10 289 13 216 140
Lettuce 0 0 0 0 0
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 0 0 0 0 0
Total 73 290 39 597 480
Other countries Tomatoes 151 82 182 112 113
Peppers 831 1,639 1,006 826 140
Cucumbers and gherkins 99 211 166 89 58
Lettuce 22 6 4 3 3
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 4 2 0 1 0
Total 1,108 1,940 1,358 1,031 314
Total Tomatoes 64,215 64,192 70,712 83,720 75,506
Peppers 35,074 37,998 38,086 45,415 43,566
Cucumbers and gherkins 18,936 27,157 25,063 25,305 23,473
Lettuce 418 247 284 317 374
Cabbage lettuce, head lettuce 102 72 27 36 0
Total 118,744 129,666 134,171 154,792 142,918
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, November 2018)

4. Key Resources

  • Statistics Canada. Table 32-10-0456-01 Production and value of greenhouse 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

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