The Packer’s Tom Karst visited March 24 with Ron Lemaire, president of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, about the decision to cancel the CPMA convention and other produce industry effects from the COVID-19 outbreak.
“It was the right thing to do,” Lemaire said. “Our board, our executive committee and staff were looking at how we could ensure the safety of our members, delegates, and exhibitors.”
He said the Canadian grower community is working to figure out how to correctly manage temporary foreign workers in view of COVID-19, including considerations such as social distancing and transportation needs.
Lemaire said Canadian consumers went through a panic buying mode and purchases big quantities of potatoes and onions. That panic buying appears to have waned, he said, but there may be a new spike in buying when provincial mandates are put in place that close non-essential businesses.
So far, Lemaire said he has not heard of any delays in Canadian imports of U.S. fresh produce.
“The small hiccups that we are seeing is on understanding of what the customs clearance requirements are. And we’re working with the government to make sure that those requirements are clearly communicated all,” Lemaire said.