OTTAWA – Fruit and vegetable sales in Canada fell 0.8% in 2020 from a year ago to $ 2.5 billion, as harvested area fell 1.4% to reach 180,815 hectares.
Statistics Canada reports that Canadian fruit and vegetable growers faced labor shortages in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the usual weather challenges.
Vegetable sales rose 2.5% to $ 1.3 billion last year, mainly on higher farm gate prices. Sales increases were higher for cabbages, 9.6%, for sweet corn, 7.4%, and tomatoes, 6.4%.
However, the asparagus crop, one of the first vegetables harvested in the spring, has been badly hit by labor shortages linked to travel restrictions in effect in March and April. Production fell 24.3%.
According to the Consumer Price Index, annual prices for fresh vegetables increased at a rate of 3% in 2020 compared to 12.7% in 2019.
Fruit sales fell 4.3% to $ 1.2 billion, mainly due to declines of 18.9% for sweet cherries, 13.1% for grapes and 10% for blueberries. But the production of wild blueberries in Quebec increased 10.7% to 34.4 million kilograms, which represented half of the national harvest.
Meanwhile, cranberry sales rose 16.1%, mostly on a rebound in sales in British Columbia, where farm gate value fell 40.1% in 2019.
Strawberry production has plummeted 11.4% in one year and strawberry sales by 2.3% despite the popularity of U-pick activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Statistics Canada observed that the spring frost and poor summer weather conditions resulted in a decline in fruit production. A hot, dry fall subsequently helped apple growers, but hurt growers of root vegetables and conservation vegetables, particularly in Quebec, where farmers reported root suffocation issues related to hot, dry soils. .
The Canadian Press