The U.S. International Trade Commission heard an array of American, Mexican and Canadian experts on trade of cucumbers and squash coming into the U.S. at a virtual hearing on April 8. The hearing is a window into North American trade flows. Squash is not a relevant export for Canada, but cucumbers are. As Canadian experts testified, cucumbers subdivide into field-grown, greenhouse-grown and pickling markets.
Mathieu Boucher, deputy director, horticulture division, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada led the group of Canadians which included: Glen Snoek, marketing
and economic policy analyst, Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG); Andre Solymosi, general manager, British Columbia Vegetable Marketing Commission; Ron Van Damme, vice chair, Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers; and Jocelyn Gibouleau, president, Le Productions Margiric Inc.
“Once the commission realized that the majority of Canadian field-grown, fresh-market cucumbers are destined for retail sales in Canada, they focussed more heavily on greenhouse cucumbers and field processing shipments,” said Glen Snoek.
Ontario and British Columbia representatives fielded questions about their respective growing regions.
As Snoek explained, “Canadian greenhouse production does not generally interfere with the most important harvest periods for Georgia and Florida and generally complements them. Canadian seedless cucumbers are very different from American field cucumbers and command a higher price in retail stores. Seedless cucumbers offer a different consumer experience and have dramatically expanded the snack category, beyond a salad or meal ingredient. Long English seedless and mini-cucumbers are not a direct substitute for American field-grown cucumbers.”
On the field side, Ron Van Damme explained that Canada is an important element of a North American pickle-production value chain. “Our raw cucumbers are processed by American factories and sent back to Canada for sale,” said Van Damme.
“We are optimistic that the Commission now recognizes how different greenhouse cucumber products are compared to that produced by American field growers,” said Snoek. “The commission was fairly adamant that they were not investigating unfair trade practices, but only generating a report on the impact of imports.”
More than 30 witnesses were on the agenda, including the Florida Agriculture Commissioner and the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas. The outcome of the hearing is expected no later than December 7, 2021.
Source: Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, April 12, 2021.