Ontario apple growers rely on domestic support

Ontario apple growers are experiencing yields very similar to last year despite the apple crop being large worldwide. “Ontario doesn’t have a huge apple crop like Washington,” states Steve Martin of Martin’s Family Fruit Farm, “We may even yield a little less than last year.”

While States like Washington, New York and Michigan are crowned the top apple exporters in North America, Ontario comes in fourth overall. From what Ontario grows only 40% is domestically consumed. The remaining 60% reflects apples imported to the province. “There is considerable room to grow. Even if Ontario apple growers seize 45% of the market it’s a big success.”

Martin’s Family Fruit Farm contains 800 acres of apple orchard which estimate to yield approximately 300,000 to 400,000 bushels of apples. “800 acres would normally yield more than 400,000 bushels of apples,” explains Martin, “But most of our acres are young trees planted six or seven years ago. They’re not in production, but will be in the future.”

Ontario apple growers focus on delivering their produce locally. While some growers do export, it is not a significant resource. “We don’t export a lot. We don’t grow with the exporting, but instead use it as a method to sell overflow of crops.” Instead Martin’s Family Fruit Farms sells to most local large grocery chains and food service companies. “We have a small processing facility on the farm, but we sell to larger ones as well.”

The prices for apples in Ontario have remained stable, especially for fresh apples. However, if the apple crop remains big worldwide, there will be considerable downward pressure on the Ontario apple market in months to come. Growers are hoping for domestic and local support. “The more support we receive the better off all Canadians are. The apple industry creates a number of jobs within the country.”
A few years ago Ontario growers considered giving up the industry. “We couldn’t compete with the growing cost of labour,” reflects Martin, “It was only due to consumer demand that we continued to grow apples in Ontario. So as long as the consumer wants to eat locally grown apples, we will continue to grow them.”

For more information:
Steve Martin
Tel: 519-664-2750

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