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Apple and tender fruit markets grow

Apple and tender fruit markets grow

Ontario Tender Fruit and Ontario Apple Growers benefit from promotional materials thanks to cost-share funding

Staff Writer
The Ontario Tender Fruit and Ontario Apple Growers have new promotional materials, marketing techniques, and outreach activities for their crops.
Both organizations “access(ed) cost-share funding through separate Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership) projects,” an Agricultural Adaptation Council release said today. The producer groups can help grow the domestic markets for their crops with the new resources. 
And farmers are ready to meet this potential demand. The launch of a tree revitalization program in 2015 encouraged the planting of 130,000 tender fruit trees in the province. New apricot and pear plantings are also coming into production. 
Indeed, Ontario is one of Canada’s leading producers of tender fruit and apples, Lawrence MacAulay, federal minister of agriculture and agri-food, said in the release.
“Raising awareness and demand on the domestic markets for these fruits will help farmers create new opportunities and increase their profits, while growing the economy and creating well-paying middle-class jobs for Canadians,” he said. 
“We’re determined to help Ontario farmers succeed, and letting them grow their consumer base is just one way we’re able to do it,” Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s minister of agricultural, food and rural affairs, added in the release. 
The funding shows progress in the province’s ag sector, Jan VanderHout, chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association, told today.
“It’s important that every part of the agricultural sector remains viable,” VanderHout said. “When one part of our sector benefits, then that allows more resources to go to other sectors that may need (support) as well. 
“I think it’s (great) that the Ontario government, in conjunction with the federal government, can support agriculture in ways that are meaningful, and to continue to maintain our sustainability and grow our industry … for long-term, sustainable food production,” he added.
During the 2018 tender fruit harvest season, Ontario Tender Fruit “completed in-store sampling in Ontario, as well as demonstrated simple recipes through partnerships with companies such as Gay Lea and Dr. Oetker,” the release said. Social media promotional material accompanied these initiatives. 
Ontario Tender Fruit used in-store display bins in Quebec and Atlantic Canada along with bilingual merchandising kits with a fruit-handling poster for produce department staff and recipe cards for consumers. 
The promotional materials aim to “increase awareness of tender fruit in Ontario and other Canadian provinces beyond peaches to include crops like apricots and nectarines,” said Sarah Marshall, Ontario Tender Fruit’s general manager, in the release. “By marketing our crops in areas outside of Ontario, we can increase awareness for ‘Canadian-grown’ and capture additional market share for our growers, and we accomplished that this year.”
The Ontario Apple Growers is also providing in-store sampling opportunities for customers, focusing on newer apple varieties that are less popular amongst Ontarians. 
“People go to Red Delicious and Granny Smith because they recognize those, but those tend to be imported varieties in Ontario,” said Kelly Ciceran, general manager of Ontario Apple Growers, in the release. “The consumer study showed, for example, that most people haven’t bought Ambrosia because they haven’t had a chance to try it or don’t know enough about it, so we’re giving them that opportunity to try and buy through our in-store sampling program.”
The Ontario Apple Growers invited food bloggers and writers, recipe developers and influencers to tour apple farms and packing/processing operations to encourage these consumers to learn about apples and the availability of new varieties. The producer group also developed apple grower profiles, blog posts and recipe videos to showcase the different uses of the fruit. 
The Ontario Tender Fruit project will receive up to $111,000 and the Ontario Apple Growers project will receive up to $100,000 through the Partnership. The funding will help growers of apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots.
Updated Jan. 28, 2019.
olga_d/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo


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