Production of organic bell peppers and organic tomatoes-on-the-vine has just started at OriginO’s greenhouses in Delta, British Columbia. “The growing season started in January and harvest began this month,” says Aaron Quon with Oppy, fresh produce grower, marketer and distributor as well as a long-time OriginO partner. “This year, we are excited to have grown even more organic red peppers to meet increasing consumer demand,” he added.
In recent years, consumer demand for greenhouse grown products has shown an increase. Long English cucumbers specifically have been showing double-digit growth numbers of 11 percent year-over-year for the past three years, according to IRI Fresh Look data. The current pandemic has strengthened this development. “Consumer shopping habits have changed, and more people are eating at home versus eating out. As a result, fruit and vegetable purchases at the retail level have gone up. Right now, OriginO is experiencing excellent demand for its tomatoes and bell peppers.”
Altered consumer behavior
Quon believes demand for organic produce is up as consumers are generally aware of the benefits of organic produce and the notable difference in the taste profile of organic greenhouse products. Altered consumer behavior has resulted in a big jump in organic produce sales recently with March sales in the US being up 22 percent. First quarter organic produce sales are up eight percent. “These are incredible numbers and mirror what Oppy is seeing in terms of increased demand across the board. However, this is a fast-developing situation and new shopping patterns are still emerging. Oppy’s adaptable approach is key to navigating such an uncertain market,” said Quon. As an example, he mentioned how Oppy’s strategy is not to depend on any single industry segment for the sales of its products.
“In general, greenhouse production brings inherent flexibility, which is also advantageous in these circumstances,” commented Quon. “Indoor production is more flexible as greenhouses provide a greater measure of control over the growing environment. The closed system increases the ability to change parameters that affect yield. When coupled with good planning, this level of control ultimately lends itself to an equal measure of flexibility. As a result of our diversified approach, Oppy and its greenhouse partners, including OriginO, feel fortunate to be able to weather the impact of COVID-19.”
Because of a growing demand trend, Oppy already expanded its organic greenhouse program to meet the regular increases in demand every year. “As a result, we are well-positioned to transition seamlessly in order to meet this recent, unprecedented demand.” OriginO’s organic bell peppers and TOVs will be available through November. Both items are sold in bulk or can be packaged, with bell peppers coming in two-packs while TOV’s are bagged.