December 15th, 2017

Business Beat: Powering growth

By Medicine Hat News on November 22, 2017.

Canada’s greenhouse operators are growing their square footage to take advantage of rising vegetable prices in international markets.

In Alberta, Medicine Hat continues to lead the way, accounting for 70 per cent of the province’s total greenhouse area, while producing enough power to meet the growing needs of the city.

And there’s room for more.

On Nov. 2, the City of Medicine Hat officially opened a new power plant that Cal Lenz, city commissioner of utilities says “will meet the growing needs of the city,” while mentioning new greenhouses as a potential source of demand.

That’s no coincidence.

Rising value for peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers has lead to greenhouse operators adding square footage in order to take advantage of a growing global market.

Peppers in particular have been on a run, with their farm gate value rising from $300,000 to over $425,000 (thousands of dollars) between 2011 and 2015, according to Statistics Canada.

The farm gate value of tomatoes and cucumbers has risen by approximately 9 per cent over the same time period.

As greenhouse vegetable prices continue their upward trend, expect square footage to increase as well, along with demand for power.

Most notably, Big Marble Farms recently cut the ribbon on a 1.5 million square foot vegetable greenhouse adjacent to Medicine Hat.

The facility is Alberta’s largest greenhouse and draws on city power, proving that large-scale operators can indeed thrive in Canada’s sunniest city.

With the city’s new power plant now online, greenhouse operators seeking a location to expand their own square footage will begin looking harder at Canada’s sunniest city, confident that their power, logistics and labour force needs can be met.

As a power generator, Medicine Hat is able to cut transmission costs, which are forecast to nearly double by 2025.

For any major power user, that represents significant savings.

Combine locally-generated power and no transmission costs with available land, and a well-established greenhouse industry, and it is clear that Medicine Hat has planted the seeds for success in Canada’s growing greenhouse industry.

Ryan Jackson is the general manager for Invest Medicine Hat, is the city’s economic and business development initiative whose role is to uncover and promote business opportunities in Canada’s sunniest city. For more information on investment opportunities, visit http://www.investmedicinehat.ca

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