Statistical Overview of the Canadian Greenhouse Vegetable Industry - 2016

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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 crop grown in Canada.

The total harvested area of greenhouse vegetables in Canada was over 15 million square metres in 2016, which was up 7% from the previous year. There has been a steady increase in the harvested area of greenhouse vegetables in Canada over the last five years.

Ontario continued to lead the greenhouse vegetable sector in 2016, representing 70% of the total harvested area in Canada, followed by British Columbia and Quebec with 20% and 6%, respectively. Moreover, Ontario also produced 69% of Canada's greenhouse vegetables, with British Columbia (15%) and Quebec (6%) ranked second and third. The total production of greenhouse vegetables in Canada was over 600,000 metric tonnes.

The farm gate value (FGV)Footnote1 of Canada's greenhouse vegetables in 2016 was over $1.3 billion, which was 4% higher than in 2015 and 27% higher than in 2012. Tomatoes accounted for 41% ($544 million) of the total greenhouse vegetable FGV, followed by peppers and cucumbers, which accounted for 31% ($420 million) and 25% ($334 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 2016, 11,190 people were employed in the greenhouse vegetable sector: 6,520 permanent employees and 4,671 seasonal employees. Ontario itself accounted for 66% 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 39% of all fresh produce exports. The total value of Canada's greenhouse vegetable exports grew for the fifth consecutive year, up 49% from 2012 to a record $863 million in 2016. Tomatoes accounted for 40% of the total value of exports, followed by peppers with 37%. The United States has been Canada's main export destinations for greenhouse vegetables for the past five years. In 2016, the value of exports to the United States accounted for 99.5% of all Canadian greenhouse vegetable exports.

In 2016, Canada imported $460 million of greenhouse vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and lettuce). The top two greenhouse vegetable import sources were Mexico, accounting for $394 million and the United States, accounting for $42 million. Tomatoes (52%) are the largest imported commodity, followed by peppers (38%) and cucumbers (10%).

1. Production

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

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Atlantic provinces[2] 50 50 45 40 38
Quebec 240 235 195 242 247
Ontario 235 230 230 350 355
Prairie provinces[2] 85 85 80 106 113
British Columbia 135 135 130 125 125
Canada 745 735 680 863 878

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 (CANSIM Table 001-0047)

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

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Newfoundland and Labrador 2,522 3,018 3,235 4,296 647
Prince Edward Island x 1,236 1,398 x x
Nova Scotia 51,554 63,959 67,577 77,992 x
New Brunswick x x x 5,042 121
Ontario 8,946,414 9,536,949 9,648,343 10,061,138 10,786,891
Quebec 813,802 974,967 909,517 951,534 914,546
Manitoba 6,778 6,595 835 5,245 496
Saskatchewan 4,575 15,250 12,978 14,139 2,003
Alberta 520,013 541,095 530,301 544,222 547,626
British Columbia 2,890,257 2,953,999 3,014,961 2,881,096 3,042,197
Canada 13,342,785 14,159,519 14,234,970 14,592,089 15,624,257

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

Source: Statistics Canada. (CANSIM Table 001-0006)

1.3. Harvested area of greenhouse vegetables by province – percent share, 2016

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Harvested area of greenhouse vegetables by province – percent share

  • Ontario: 70%
  • British Columbia: 20%
  • Quebec: 6%
  • Others: 4%

Source: Statistics Canada. (CANSIM Table 001-0006)

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

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Tomatoes 5,313,632 5,626,969 5,540,991 5,513,834 5,984,704
Peppers 4,546,257 4,887,414 4,951,039 4,940,681 5,190,564
Cucumbers 3,273,983 3,462,182 3,544,037 3,739,157 3,964,710
Lettuce 208,913 182,954 198,903 187,343 174,510
Other fruits or vegetables 0 0 0 211,074 168,659
Eggplants 0 0 89,691
Chinese vegetables 0 0 51,104
Herbs 0 0 270
Green beans 0 0 45
Grand Total 13,342,785 14,159,519 14,234,970 14,592,089 15,624,257
Source: Statistics Canada. (CANSIM Table 001-0006)

1.5. Harvested area of greenhouse vegetables by province – percent share, 2016

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Harvested area of greenhouse vegetables by commodity – percent share

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

Source: Statistics Canada. (CANSIM Table 001-0006)

1.6. Greenhouse vegetable production by province (metric tonnes)

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Newfoundland and Labrador 9 16 25 10 7
Prince Edward Island x x 66 x x
Nova Scotia 1,943 2,763 2,668 3,089 1,250
New Brunswick x 27 24 29 1
Quebec[1] 22,777 21,764 20,495 2,432 35,590
Ontario 385,363 408,398 420,341 415,558 416,352
Manitoba 162 178 24 152 3
Saskatchewan 86 210 162 186 26
Alberta 23,115 20,769 22,357 22,091 23,307
British Columbia 115,073 130,325 124,256 114,652 94,471
Canada 551,714 585,617 590,986 578,136 605,648

Notes:

[1] Data for greenhouse tomatoes in 2015 are not included because they are too unreliable to be published.

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

Source: Statistics Canada. (CANSIM Table 001-0006)

1.7. Greenhouse vegetable production by province – percent share, 2016

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Greenhouse vegetable production by province – percent share

  • Ontario: 69%
  • British Columbia: 15%
  • Quebec: 6%
  • Alberta: 4%
  • Others: 6%

Source: Statistics Canada. (CANSIM Table 001-0006)

1.8. Greenhouse vegetable production by commodity (metric tonnes)

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Tomatoes 272,992 282,809 280,332 261,677 276,091
Peppers 111,991 128,274 130,294 134,644 135,957
Cucumbers 166,731 174,534 180,360 181,814 177,872
Lettuce[1] 12,171
Eggplants  …  …  …  … 2,872
Chinese vegetables 680
Herbs 4
Green beans 0
Total 551,714 585,617 590,986 578,136 605,648

Notes:

[1] Prior to 2016, the production of lettuce was reported in heads. These series are now terminated.

.. Not available.

Source: Statistics Canada. (CANSIM Table 001-0006)

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

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Newfoundland and Labrador 22 83 83 105 38
Prince Edward Island x 15 211 x x
Nova Scotia 4,699 7,302 7,503 8,433 8,012
New Brunswick x 111 90 244 24
Quebec[1] 80,913 86,011 86,678 37,468 96,131
Ontario 678,383 767,501 803,226 826,257 859,787
Manitoba 651 703 87 609 82
Saskatchewan 398 1,194 873 1,386 715
Alberta 50,545 52,275 52,114 53,584 54,689
British Columbia 231,049 299,792 290,743 302,208 311,552
Canada 1,055,981 1,222,150 1,249,671 1,297,089 1,343,625

Notes:

[1] Data for greenhouse tomatoes in 2015 are not included because they are too unreliable to be published.

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

Source: Statistics Canada. (CANSIM Table 001-0006)

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

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Tomatoes 437,649 516,656 507,098 514,251 544,494
Peppers 313,357 377,329 398,699 426,170 419,737
Cucumbers 281,791 299,170 312,127 311,264 334,185
Lettuce 23,184 28,994 31,748 29,642 28,152
Eggplants 0 0 0 0 7,757
Other fruits or vegetables 0 0 0 15,762 4,472
Herbs 0 0 0 0 3,350
Chinese vegetables 0 0 0 0 1,126
Green beans 0 0 0 0 353
Total 1,055,981 1,222,150 1,249,671 1,297,089 1,343,625

Source: Statistics Canada (CANSIM Table 001-0006)

2. Labour

2.1. Total number of employees of specialized greenhouse vegetable operations

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Atlantic provinces Seasonal employees[1] 125 140 96 53 45
Permanent employees[2] 70 73 52 58 54
Total employees 195 213 148 111 99
Quebec Seasonal employees[1] 890 596 496 467 549
Permanent employees[2] 1,055 720 698 800 758
Total employees 1,945 1,316 1,194 1,267 1,307
Ontario Seasonal employees[1] 3,856 3,564 3,708 3,380 3,231
Permanent employees[2] 2,765 2,610 2,977 3,400 4,183
Total employees 6,621 6,174 6,685 6,780 7,414
Prairie provinces Seasonal employees[1] 190 104 96 120 136
Permanent employees[2] 470 438 399 385 392
Total employees 660 542 495 505 528
British Columbia Seasonal employees[1] 1,180 1,156 1,058 940 710
Permanent employees[2] 1,360 1,180 1,387 1,265 1,133
Total employees 2,540 2,336 2,445 2,205 1,843
Canada Seasonal employees[1] 6,241 5,560 5,454 4,960 4,671
Permanent employees[2] 5,720 5,021 5,513 5,908 6,520
Total employees 11,961 10,581 10,967 10,868 11,191

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. (CANSIM Table 001-0055)

3. Trade

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

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Exports 578,802 724,057 730,134 827,500 863,190
Import 222,591 259,074 309,934 369,772 460,372
Trade Balance
(Exports - Imports)
356,211 464,983 420,200 457,728 402,818
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, June 2017)

3.2. Exports

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

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Tomatoes 265,396 315,472 297,957 311,310 341,722
Cucumbers and gherkins 204,582 248,240 269,726 329,947 318,028
Cucumbers 108,824 160,346 162,451 186,242 203,440
Total 578,802 724,057 730,134 827,500 863,190
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, June 2017)

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

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Tomatoes 131,845 126,869 133,955 125,327 140,145
Cucumbers and gherkins 60,241 77,938 77,485 93,631 96,423
Peppers 65,377 73,858 76,685 82,317 83,147
Total 257,463 278,666 288,125 301,275 319,715
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, June 2017)

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

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Prince Edward Island 4 0 3 0 7
Nova Scotia 19 13 9 3 1
New Brunswick 0 1 2 3 8
Québec 3,446 5,267 3,238 5,766 6,970
Ontario 448,388 583,889 579,985 654,262 684,994
Manitoba 1 0 0 0 0
Alberta 546 187 278 378 620
British Columbia 126,389 134,699 146,618 167,087 170,591
Total 578,792 724,057 730,134 827,500 863,190
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, June 2017)

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

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Prince Edward Island 1 0 1 0 2
Nova Scotia 6 4 3 1 0
New Brunswick 0 0 1 1 2
Québec 3,025 3,786 2,422 4,370 4,394
Ontario 197,008 217,267 232,563 247,821 264,560
Manitoba 0 0 0 0 0
Alberta 657 115 227 206 354
British Columbia 56,764 57,494 52,909 48,876 50,402
Total 257,460 278,666 288,125 301,275 319,715
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, June 2017)

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

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
United States Tomatoes 264,822 314,052 297,110 309,363 337,716
Peppers 204,535 248,221 269,679 329,693 317,652
Cucumbers and gherkins 108,823 160,337 162,330 186,202 203,411
Total 578,181 722,610 729,119 825,258 858,780
Japan Tomatoes 561 1,265 632 1,539 3,442
Peppers 0 0 0 0 15
Cucumbers and gherkins 0 0 2 17 0
Total 561 1,265 635 1,556 3,456
Taiwan Tomatoes 2 137 161 261 503
Pepper 1 0 0 0 10
Cucumbers and gherkins 0 0 4 0 0
Total 2 137 165 261 513
Hong Kong Peppers 0 0 6 174 316
Tomatoes 2 6 47 136 51
Cucumbers and gherkins 0 0 6 6 7
Total 2 6 58 316 373
United Kingdom Cucumbers and gherkins 0 7 108 0 20
Tomatoes 0 0 0 0 0
Peppers 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 7 108 0 20
Other countries Peppers 46 19 42 80 36
Tomatoes 9 12 6 12 11
Cucumbers and gherkins 1 1 1 17 1
Total 56 29 49 108 48
Total Cucumbers and gherkins 265,431 315,480 298,059 311,417 342,032
Tomatoes 204,547 248,239 269,732 329,841 317,739
Peppers 108,824 160,338 162,343 186,242 203,419
Total 578,802 724,057 730,134 827,500 863,190
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, June 2017)

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

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
United States Tomatoes 131,647 126,423 133,702 124,689 138,829
Cucumbers and gherkins 60,241 77,935 77,440 93,615 96,414
Peppers 65,357 73,853 76,668 82,243 83,024
Total 257,245 278,210 287,810 300,547 318,266
Japan Tomatoes 194 397 183 505 1,135
Peppers 0 0 0 0 4
Cucumbers and gherkins 0 0 1 6 0
Total 194 397 184 511 1,139
Taiwan Tomatoes 1 44 53 84 161
Peppers 0 0 0 0 3
Cucumbers and gherkins 0 0 1 0 0
Total 1 44 54 84 164
Hong Kong Peppers 0 0 2 52 93
Tomatoes 1 2 14 45 16
Cucumbers and gherkins 0 0 2 2 2
Total 1 2 18 99 112
United Kingdom Cucumbers and gherkins 0 3 40 0 6
Tomatoes 0 0 0 0 0
Peppers 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 3 40 0 6
Other countries Peppers 19 5 15 23 24
Tomatoes 3 4 2 4 3
Cucumbers and gherkins 0 0 0 7 0
Total 22 9 18 33 27
Total Tomatoes 131,845 126,869 133,955 125,327 140,145
Cucumbers and gherkins 60,241 77,938 77,485 93,631 96,423
Peppers 65,377 73,858 76,685 82,317 83,147
Total 257,463 278,666 288,125 301,275 319,715
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, June 2017)

3.3. Imports

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

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Tomatoes 123,064 138,271 159,233 194,890 239,834
Peppers 77,577 91,886 108,055 129,741 172,924
Cucumbers and gherkins 21,598 28,076 41,971 44,348 46,892
Lettuce 353 841 674 794 721
Total 222,591 259,074 309,934 369,772 460,372
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, June 2017)

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

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Tomatoes 57,006 64,215 64,192 70,712 83,719
Peppers 30,764 35,074 37,998 38,086 45,415
Cucumbers and gherkins 15,696 18,936 27,157 25,063 25,312
Lettuce 258 418 247 284 317
Total 103,724 118,643 129,593 134,144 154,763
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, June 2017)

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

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Mexico Tomatoes 104,166 122,513 143,632 174,814 211,702
Peppers 68,908 84,192 95,804 105,933 144,721
Cucumbers and gherkins 17,664 22,702 33,664 33,742 37,939
Lettuce 2 2 11 5 9
Total 190,740 229,410 273,111 314,495 394,371
United States Tomatoes 17,177 13,987 14,932 19,577 27,593
Peppers 980 1,504 2,423 4,776 7,224
Cucumbers and gherkins 3,047 3,434 6,423 8,134 6,186
Lettuce 307 800 630 762 689
Total 21,511 19,724 24,408 33,249 41,692
Spain Peppers 2,851 3,442 5,674 14,807 16,032
Cucumbers and gherkins 433 1,720 903 2,114 2,135
Tomatoes 0 0 0 23 110
Lettuce 0 1 0 0 0
Total 3,284 5,162 6,578 16,943 18,278
Israel Peppers 1,158 699 1,229 1,633 1,752
Cucumbers and gherkins 0 0 0 0 22
Tomatoes 98 0 3 13 0
Lettuce 0 0 0 0 0
Total 1,255 699 1,232 1,646 1,774
Guatemala Peppers 55 181 267 667 677
Tomatoes 757 1,312 445 146 98
Lettuce 0 0 0 0 0
Cucumbers and gherkins 101 3 0 0 0
Total 914 1,495 713 813 774
Other countries Peppers 3,625 1,868 2,657 1,925 2,519
Cucumbers and gherkins 352 218 981 357 610
Tomatoes 866 459 221 317 331
Lettuce 44 38 33 27 22
Total 4,887 2,584 3,892 2,627 3,482
Total Tomatoes 123,064 138,271 159,233 194,890 239,834
Peppers 77,577 91,886 108,055 129,741 172,924
Cucumbers and gherkins 21,598 28,076 41,971 44,348 46,892
Lettuce 353 841 674 794 721
Total 222,591 259,074 309,934 369,772 460,372
Source: Statistics Canada (CATSNET, June 2017)

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

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Mexico Tomatoes 48,551 56,937 57,867 63,058 73,400
Peppers 27,656 32,565 33,811 31,908 38,079
Cucumbers and gherkins 13,528 16,071 23,326 20,583 21,693
Lettuce 2 1 4 1 4
Total 89,736 105,574 115,008 115,550 133,177
United States Tomatoes 7,848 6,415 6,062 7,400 10,138
Cucumbers and gherkins 1,684 1,592 2,897 3,151 2,362
Peppers 416 559 921 1,317 1,994
Lettuce 229 394 237 278 309
Total 10,177 8,960 10,118 12,146 14,804
Spain Peppers 977 1,077 1,565 3,722 4,039
Cucumbers and gherkins 261 1,162 434 1,149 951
Tomatoes 0 0 0 14 33
Lettuce 0 0 0 0 0
Total 1,238 2,240 2,000 4,885 5,023
Israel Peppers 147 219 985 337 171
Cucumbers and gherkins 3 16 72 25 58
Tomatoes 0 33 1 15 38
Lettuce 0 0 0 0 0
Total 150 269 1,059 377 268
Guatemala Peppers 430 190 405 421 490
Cucumbers and gherkins 0 0 0 0 12
Tomatoes 19 0 0 3 0
Lettuce 0 0 0 0 0
Total 450 190 406 424 502
Other countries Peppers 1,138 463 309 380 642
Cucumbers and gherkins 220 95 427 154 235
Tomatoes 587 830 261 223 110
Lettuce 28 22 6 4 3
Total 1,973 1,410 1,002 762 990
Total Tomatoes 57,006 64,215 64,192 70,712 83,719
Peppers 30,764 35,074 37,998 38,086 45,415
Cucumbers and gherkins 15,696 18,936 27,157 25,063 25,312
Lettuce 258 418 247 284 317
Total 103,724 118,643 129,593 134,144 154,763
Source: Statistics Canada. (CATSNET, June 2017)

4. Key Resources

  • Statistics Canada. CANSIM Table 001-0006
  • Statistics Canada. CANSIM Table 001-0047
  • Statistics Canada. CANSIM Table 001-0055
  • Statistics Canada. CATSNET

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