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Canadian fruit sales rise in 2008: StatsCan

Total sales of fruit and vegetables by Canadian farmers amounted to over $1.4 billion in 2008, up $14.7 million from 2007, according to Statistics Canada. Fruit crops accounted for just over half of the total.

Farmers received $775 million for fruit crops, up 4.6 per cent from 2007. The federal statistics agency said in a release Wednesday that the increase was driven by the processing market, especially by gains in sales of blueberries, cranberries and vinifera grapes for processing.

Sales for vegetables fell 2.9 per cent to $651 million. The decline affected both the processing and fresh markets. Historically, about three-quarters of the value of vegetables come from fresh market sales, while the rest comes from sales to processors. This was the case in 2008.

Farmers planted 543,310 acres in fruits and vegetables in 2008, down 5.8 per cent or 33,375 acres from 2007. The reduced planting area, combined with inclement weather in some regions, resulted in a 7.5 per cent decline in production of fruits and vegetables.

Sweet corn, the largest vegetable crop, accounted for more than 20 per cent of the 258,650 acres of vegetables planted in 2008. Green peas were the second largest, with 14 per cent of acreage. Except for radishes and spinach, plantings fell for all vegetables.

Farmers had 284,660 acres in fruit in 2008, down 2.4 per cent from 2007. Blueberries accounted for almost half of this acreage, followed by apples (17.4 per cent) and vinifera grapes (7.7 per cent). Farmers planted more cranberries and blueberries in 2008, while the area for apples declined, partly because of replanting programs in some provinces.

Farmers in just two provinces — Ontario and Quebec — accounted for more than 80 per cent of sales of vegetables. The vast majority of fruit sales came from three provinces: British Columbia, 35.3 per cent, Ontario, 29.2 per cent and Quebec, 23.1 per cent.

Fruit and vegetable sales, 2007 and 2008 (millions of Canadian dollars).

2007 2008 % change
Canada 741 775 4.6
Atlantic 97 92 -5.7
Quebec 151 179 19.1
Ontario 236 226 -4.0
Prairies 5 5 -1.9
B.C. 253 273 8.0
Canada 671 651 -2.9
Atlantic 35 31 -12.0
Quebec 248 250 0.8
Ontario 292 283 -2.9
Prairies 45 42 -7.4
B.C. 53 46 -10.5

Source: Statistics Canada.

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