The Canadian Greenhouse Industry: producing sustainable food

Greenhouses play an important role in food security. With the help of Dutch partners the Canadian greenhouse industry has evolved into an efficient sector that provides sustainable food throughout the year. This innovative way of producing is getting more acknowledged and fits well in the Sustainable Development Goals.

Greenhouses

The key factors of greenhouses are efficiency, consistency and food safety. Greenhouses are sustainable, efficiently controlled environments, in which water, light, nutrients and temperature can be precisely managed by innovative software. This creates an optimal environment with the most favorable circumstances for the specific crop growing in the greenhouse, and even more importantly, it ensures that only the necessary amount of water and energy are used. This saves space, money and energy. It also maximizes yields: one acre of a tomato greenhouse yields 10 times the amount of tomatoes as one acre of tomatoes in a field.

Greenhouses by day

Greenhouses in the Netherlands by day

Next to this efficiency, greenhouses provide a consistent supply of produce all year around, including the cold Canadian winters. Greenhouses also produce crops that are consistent in size and taste. Furthermore, greenhouses limit transportation time of produce because greenhouses can be established close(r) to consumer markets; this allows consumers in Canada to buy locally grown vegetables and fruits. Last but not least, greenhouses limit concerns regarding  food safety. Greenhouses are closed systems which create a safe(r), controlled environment that is less exposed to external factors, such as unpredictable weather and diseases. 

Looking for a partner in greenhouse industry?

If you are looking for a partner in the greenhouse industry from the Netherlands please take a look at the website of the AVAG, the Dutch Platform for Greenhouse Suppliers, with more than 70 Dutch companies, also known as the Greenhouse Technology Center of the Netherlands. On the website you can indicate specific criteria to find a partner in the Dutch greenhouse industry that specifically meet your needs for all aspects of the greenhouse sector such as construction, climate, logistics, and technology or irrigation systems: Dutch Partners in the Greenhouse Industry.

Premium product

Produce from greenhouses in North America used to be slightly more expensive than produce from fields because growing in a greenhouse is more capital intensive with regards to investments in technology. Consumers regard the produce from a greenhouse as a premium product because the fruits and vegetables are always picked at their prime time, making the fruits and vegetables as fresh and tasty as possible, for which consumers were willing to pay a higher price. However, as demand and supply increased the premium produce from greenhouses have evolved into a mainstream product with a lower price.

Acknowledgment

During the last three years, not only the production of the greenhouse industry evolved but so did its marketing. In supermarkets all over Canada, produce from greenhouses are being indicated on packaging of produce with words such as “locally grown in Canada” or  “greenhouse grown” to inform and/or educate the consumer about the origin of their produce. This is a positive development as it provides more visibility and acknowledgment for the greenhouse industry as a whole.

Horticulture in the Netherlands and the Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) defined by the United Nations in 2015 provide a practical framework for a wide range of initiatives and innovations. They are also an urgent invitation to governments, knowledge institutes, financial institutions and businesses to achieve impact for sustainability together. The horticultural sector in the Netherlands makes a significant contribution to the SDG’s and related targets. This is demonstrated by the wealth of successful, innovative solutions developed by the businesses in the Dutch horticultural sector. Please see the following brochure with Dutch companies that are prime examples of these innovations in the light of SDG’s: Practical Examples Dutch Horticulture and the SDG’s.

The Netherlands aspires to be the world leader in solutions for societal challenges in the field of horticulture, food and the green environment. Businesses, knowledge institutes and government work together in the top sector of the Netherlands to make tangible contributions to the global challenges the world is facing. From seed breeder to greenhouse builder and from vegetable grower to technology supplier, as a chain, the sector has a significant impact on food, energy and climate.