A New Era in Value Chain Cooperation for Ontario Tree Fruit & Fresh Grape
Growers

VINELAND, ON, March 31 /CNW/ - Len Troup, Chair, Ontario Tender Fruit Producers' Marketing Board, Brian Gilroy, Chair, Ontario Apple Growers, Larry Hipple, Chair, Ontario Fresh Grape Growers and Donald Ziraldo, Chair, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre welcome release of a new report today.

"This report signals a fresh vision for Ontario's fruit farmers and calls on all members of the value chain to work together in taking advantage of increasing consumer consumption of fruit," said Len Troup.

The report, Fifteen Year Comprehensive Strategic Plan for the Ontario Apple, Tender Fruit and Fresh Grape Industry, was coordinated by Vineland Research and Innovation Centre and commissioned by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) under the strategic planning component of the Canada-Ontario Orchards and Vineyards Transition Program.

"The report is clear, innovation and partnerships are key to supplying growing market demand with Ontario fruit. We understand that consumers are increasing their demand for high quality product and leading edge varieties," said Len Troup, Chair, Ontario Tender Fruit Producers' Marketing Board. "To meet this demand and address import competition, we must improve relationships with packers, distributors and retailers."

Although Ontario fruit sectors have been producing quality peaches, nectarines, pears, apples and table grapes for decades, reaching the consumer with consistently high quality product and novel varieties has been a mounting challenge for the industry.

"Nobody will argue the value of an apple a day; as growers we need to guarantee it is an Ontario apple at the finger tips of every Ontario consumer. Quality systems, retail access, and new varieties, which although take time to develop, are fundamental to this effort," said Brian Gilroy, Chair, Ontario Apple Growers.

"Working with our grower partners, we will engage in consultations with Ontario value chain members to refine report priorities and finalize an action plan over the coming months," said Larry Hipple, Chair, Ontario Fresh Grape Growers. "We cannot delay, as a new growing season is already on us."

The report identifies a number of strengths that have already primed the sector for success; close proximity to large and affluent markets, consistent production capability, Ontario 'buy local' movements and support from research and innovation leaders.

"We know there are real and substantiated growth opportunities for Ontario horticulture. At Vineland Research and Innovation Centre we are pleased to be a part of the process and the solutions," said Donald Ziraldo.

"Vineland Research and Innovation Centre appreciated the opportunity to coordinate this report on behalf of OMAFRA, AAFC and industry stakeholders," added Dr. Jim Brandle, CEO. "Vineland's researchers and innovators will play a leading role in variety development, production system improvements and new technology opportunities that will drive a more competitive and consumer-focused sector."

Consultations with horticulture value chain members from growers through to retailers will formally commence with public release of the report.

About Ontario Apple Growers

The Ontario Apple Growers operates under the Farm Products Marketing Act and represents approximately 270 commercial apple growers. There are about 16,500 acres of apples produced in Ontario. The major apple-producing areas in Ontario are along the shores of Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay.

About Ontario Tender Fruit Producers' Marketing Board

The Ontario Tender Fruit Producers' Marketing Board operates under the Farm Products Marketing Act and represents all producers of tender fruit who market to either the fresh or processing market. The Board has more than 360 grower-members. Over 90 per cent of all tender fruit crop production is generated from the Niagara Peninsula. The remainder is located in Norfolk County and in southwestern Ontario.

About Ontario Fresh Grape Growers' Marketing Board

The Ontario Fresh Grape Growers' Marketing Board was formed in 1967 to regulate the marketing of fresh grapes produced in Ontario. The organization currently represents 160 fresh grape growers, 90% of which are operating in the Niagara Peninsula.

About Vineland Research and Innovation Centre

Vineland Research and Innovation Centre is an independent, not-for-profit organization that was created to be a world-class centre for horticultural science and innovation. In its capacity to enable and foster relationships with industry, academia and government, Vineland works to deliver premium product and production innovations. Vineland brings a global perspective to the Canadian horticulture industry and offers a broad range of lasting benefits to stakeholders both locally and internationally. Aligned with industry needs, Vineland's research priorities and outcomes are focused on the growth of the entire horticulture industry.

SOURCE Vineland Research and Innovation Centre

For further information: For further information: Kelly Ciceran, Manager, Ontario Apple Growers, (905) 688-0990, kciceran@onapples.com, www.onapples.com; Adrian Huisman, Secretary/Manager, Ontario Tender Fruit Producers' Marketing Board/Ontario Fresh Grape Growers, (905) 688-0990 x 236, adrian@ontariotenderfruit.ca, www.ontariotenderfruit.ca; Isabel Dopta, Director, Communications and Stakeholder Relations, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, (905) 562-0320, Ext. 791, Isabel.dopta@vinelandresearch.com, www.vinelandresearch.com

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Vineland Research and Innovation Centre

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