Projections from the BC Vegetable Marketing Commission indicate declining greenhouse vegetable acreage this year as the area devoted to beefsteak tomatoes falls.
Production is set to drop to less than 3 million square metres as 126,358 square metres comes out of production, the commission’s annual general meeting heard last week. Beefsteak tomatoes will lose 99,862 square metres, while specialty crops account for the rest of the loss.
Commission business analyst Alex Pinkewycz said the tomato acreage is being converted to cannabis production.
The shift follows a slight gain in total area for the greenhouse sector last year following a net loss of 53 acres in 2018. The effects of that hit from the cannabis sector, which was just starting to ramp up production in advance of the legalization of recreational products in October 2018, are still being felt.
While grower levies – based on acreage – increased slightly to $330.7 million in 2019, licence fees marketing agencies pay are based on sales volumes and dropped 19% to $154.8 million.
“It’s based on historical data which is adjusted to the current year,” commission general manager Andre Solymosi explained. “So that impact that happened with the shifts in production to cannabis, that impact wasn’t really realized until last year.”
Despite the shifts, the total value of greenhouse vegetable crops in 2019 stood at $306 million, up from $277 million in 2018. The increase was due entirely to the rise in value of bell peppers as well as lettuces and other specialty crops.