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Sector Food Chains

Approximately two-thirds of agriculture producers, processors and other stakeholders are regulated under the Farm Products Marketing Act. The Commission has delegated certain powers and authorities to various Marketing Boards as either supply management or non-supply management with price setting or negotiating authority.

The managed commodities include Tender Fruit, Apples, Greenhouse Vegetables, Processing Vegetables, Asparagus, Potatoes, White Beans, Tomato Seedlings, Chickens, Turkeys, Broiler Hatching, Sheep, Pork, Eggs, Dairy, Grain Farmers and Seed Corn. Each sector has minor exemption thresholds such as 300 chickens per year, less than 5 acres of fresh potatoes, sales of farm gate wool, or milk consumed on farm.

The research findings below represent a fraction of the information available for Fruit, Vegetables and Livestock.


  • In 2004, 3 billion pounds of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables were grown on 100,500 acres at a farm value of $900M in Ontario. In 2008, it was 3.8 billion pounds on 137,900 acres at a farm value of $1.2B. At the same time, imports of fruits and vegetables into Ontario have increased to $4B annually.
  • In 1995, Ontario growers produced 611 million pounds of apples on 30,750 acres. In 2005, Ontario growers produced 426 million pounds of apples on 18,600 acres, of which 54% were fresh and 46% went to processing at a total farm value of $65.6M. The more common varieties are McIntosh, Empire, Gala, Courtland, Ida Red and Red Delicious.
  • The majority of Apples are grown close to the shores of the Great Lakes which offer optimal climate conditions; however, due to variations in season length and heat requirements, some varieties do better in different geographic locations.
  • The current estimated cost to establish an acre of apple orchard is $15,000 with an annual production cost of $4,000.
  • There are approximately 700 growers in Ontario with an average orchard size of 20 acres.
  • To become more efficient, older standard size trees are being gradually replaced with high density dwarf trees.
  • The majority of apples grown in Ontario go to one of the five commercial packers. Some apple growers have their own packing operation and buy apples from other orchards. Packers wash, grade, store and pack apples in different formats for large grocery retailers and wholesale food service suppliers who distribute to restaurants and institutions (universities, hospitals, and prisons). The packers pay the growers when the apples are graded or in some cases when the apples are sold, less the cost of storage.

Click here for Apple Exports and Imports Statistics


  • Numerous types of vegetables are grown in Ontario. In 2008, farm value sales of greenhouse tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers totaled $517M of the $806M in sales for all farm fresh vegetables grown in Ontario. On an individual vegetable basis, farm value sales of field grown fresh mushrooms were the highest ($179M). The next closest was field sweet corn ($19M), followed by dry onions, carrots, tomatoes and asparagus ($10M - $18M). For processing in Ontario, field tomatoes were number one ($59M) with mushrooms, sweet corn and carrot at number two ($5 - $10M).
  • Greenhouse operations can be divided into two main categories: Smaller greenhouse operations using soil to grow vegetables, and larger hydroponic greenhouse operations using water and nutrients. There are approximately 1,900 acres of greenhouses in Ontario growing primarily tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.
  • The Leamington area in Essex County has the highest concentration of greenhouses. One acre of hydroponic greenhouse can grow 10 times more than conventional soil greenhouses; however, the operating costs are significantly higher.
  • Most small/medium farm operations look for niche markets. In most cases, they operate independently of each with very little collaboration or leveraging of resources. Farm producers, who have capacity and capability to meet packaging and traceability requirements, ship to central grocery distribution centres.


  • The bulk of Ontario livestock production is in cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry. Ontario exported $256M in live animals and imported $56M in 2011.
  • In 2010, there were approximately 177,000 dairy cows producing over 1.5 million kiloliters of milk in Southwestern Ontario. Ontario exported $127M in dairy products and imported $228M.
  • The number of beef cows, including heifers for slaughter, totaled 238,000, with 126,000 in Bruce, Grey and Huron, and 11,000 in Essex, Elgin and Chatham-Kent.
  • The total number of pigs in Southwestern Ontario was 2.5M, with close to 1M in Perth and Huron, and 25,000 in Essex County.
  • There were 144,000 sheep and lambs in Southwestern Ontario, with 59,000 in Bruce, Perth and Huron and, 1,100 in Chatham-Kent.
  • Poultry production, spread out across Ontario, totaled 347,300,000kg. Imports of poultry and eggs were $520M and exports were $181M.