High produce prices create 'a chain' of rising costs, distributor says


William Chou has been a originate distributor since 1992.

As the owner of Scarborough-based Tai Ton Trading, he delivers fruits, vegetables, dry goods and biodegradable utensils to around 300 restaurants and smaller distributors throughout southern Ontario — wayfaring as far west as London and as far north as Sudbury.

Chou has been around the stump more than a few times, but when it comes to the recent surge in breed prices, he says he’s “never seen anything like this previous.”

“Normally, we sell a case of broccoli to restaurants for a reasonable price, perchance $18 or $20,” says Chou.

Now, he says, the price he has to y for a single tient has risen to $65, before he marks it up and sells it to his customers.

Chou conjectures he usually marks up items about 20 percent, so something he buy offs for $25 will be sold for about $30.

But Chou says he has significantly lowered his mark-ups — at times to the single digits — in order to keep his customers going.

He says diverse of his restaurants already have razor-thin profit margins and fixed assesses on their menus, so high produce prices place an enormous amount of difficulty on their budget.

Restaurants either have to eat the higher costs and y the conflict out of their own pockets, or charge more and risk losing trons.

fridge william chou

Chou says restaurants are ordering and source less produce in hopes that prices will soon lessen visit. (Justin Li/CBC)

Chou blames the weak loonie and exchange rate.

“Lone per products like tissue per haven’t increased [in reward] yet because they’re made in Canada,” he said. “Entire lot else has.”

He also thinks the low value of the Canadian dollar means people are devouring out less, which affects the business of his clients, and in turn means they’re knighthood a neat less from him.

“It’s a chain,” says Chou. “Restaurants are now merely ordering a few bunches of celery or a half case instead of a full if it happens. They are not stocking up much, only enough for maybe one or two days. They are foreseeing that tomorrow prices will drop.”

“We aren’t losing kale, but it’s tough,” he adds. “If this continues for more than six or eight months, scads restaurants could close up.”

Although the weak Canadian dollar and unpleasantness rate has some effect in the recent surge of prices, some greengrocery wholesalers and vendors say the weather — especially in places like California, where Ontario describes most of its produce — is the main culprit.

“Weather is the main reason for deficits and high prices,” says Rick Ashford, vice-president of mentoring and training at wholesaler Crap-shoots Ontario Produce.

“California, Mexico, rts of Texas and Florida, where most of our vegetables are spring up in the winter, have been experiencing poor growing conditions,” he remarked.

Ashford gives the now-infamous example of cauliflower.

He says the vegetable is generally grown in Salinas, Calif., during the spring and summer months sooner than switching further south to Yuma, Ariz., during the fall and winter.

In whatever way, Ashford says crops finished early in Salinas due to very hot and dry withstand, well before conditions in Yuma were ready for growing.

 llet jack streef

The 40-acre Ontario Nourishment Terminal has 21 warehouse tenants, including Streef Produce, and upwards 5,000 registered wholesale buyers who use the facility. (Justin Li/CBC)

Without the regular overlap, cauliflower saw a sudden supply shortage.

“Around American Thanksgiving, you saw assesses [for cauliflower] increase dramatically,” Ashford said.

Chris Streef, noramic manager of Streef Produce, a vendor within the Ontario Food Lethal, says California’s ongoing drought has also affected the volume and supplying of cauliflower, which in turn raises prices.

“Drought affects provisioning,” says Streef. “If a yield of cauliflower only distributes half of what it’s supposed to, prices are jacked up to make up the difference.”

“The exhibit industry is just supply and demand,” he adds. “All we can expectancy for this year is the weather to be better and the yields to be good.”

ontario food terminal

The Ontario Edibles Terminal distributes over one million tonnes of produce annually, coinciding to its website. (Justin Li/CBC)

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