During the summer when Ontario produce abounds, consumers happily indulge in fresh produce. Gradually, British Columbia produce starts showing up, and soon after that, all provinces must import from the USA, mostly California, Florida, Arizona, Texas, and to a lesser extent New Jersey, New Hampshire and other Atlantic Coast states. More and more Latin countries are exporting to Canada including Mexico, Chile, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. South Africa has been an important source of citrus fruits and apples when the latter are out of season here. China and even some European Union countries also supply Canadian provinces with fruits and some vegetables.
By far the largest produce supplier to Canada is California, a state that enjoys a huge, well-organized, efficient agricultural sector, able to produce enormous quantities taking advantage of economies of scale and relatively inexpensive labour. The industry is highly mechanized and competitive not only in the North American market place but also as far away as Hong Kong or even Italy.
Often Ontario importers get less expensively California produce than local fruit farmers can offer, despite the long transportation, brokerage fees and other distribution costs.
Salinas and Central valleys have been exporting to Canada for a century, but Yolo County east of Napa Valley, Sonoma County and southern California counties have become important suppliers in the last three decades.
Yolo County is well known for its tomatoes for processing, and is now specializing in heirloom tomatoes that seem to have captured the imagination of consumers despite high prices.
It may also be that regularly available tomatoes throughout the year offer very little as far as flavour and texture are concerned.
Honey, walnuts and almond taste great and are high in demand.
Salinas Valley has an excellent reputation for iceberg lettuce. The artichoke capital of the world is Castroville on the coast.
Further south, California navel oranges grow in profusion and are exported all over the U S A and throughout the world.
California farmers grow excellent peaches, nectarines, avocados, strawberries, grapes, kiwi, figs, and dates, and ship them to the east coast and to Canada.
This agricultural and industrialized state has been able to create an efficient and profitable agricultural industry based on research, investment in machinery, and scientific management principles and reducing costs.
Sonoma County grows mainly fruits, including apples, pears, plums apricots and peaches that locals buy as soon as they are on the market.
Some may reach nearby San Francisco, but rarely beyond. Sonoma County is famous for its cheeses and foie gras, but more importantly for its wines.
Napa Valley to the east of Sonoma specializes in wine and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually from San Francisco.
Santa Ynez further south and close to the Pacific Ocean and Santa Barbara are now emerging as excellent wine regions.
California farmers, most of whom have immigrant roots, brought with them the seeds of fruits and vegetables from their native countries, and found fertile ground. Readily available capital drive to succeed, and the market size of America helped them become efficient.
If it was not for California, and an inexpensive labour source further south, in Canada we would pay much higher prices for produce if we could them at all.