Ontario government plans to review the Ontario Food Terminal have independent grocers worried.
In its April 11 budget, the Ford government said it plans to review the $3 billion facility in Etobicoke, ON, near Toronto, which it owns.
According to an OurWindsor.ca report, the terminal is the largest such facility in Canada and the third largest in North America. Established in 1954 to provide an alternative to Toronto’s congested St. Lawrence Market, today it boasts 5000 registered buyers and distributes some 2 billion pounds of produce annually from wholesalers and farmers to retailers that vary from corner stores to chains such as Longo’s and Rabba.
While the provincial government’s 343 page budget had only two short paragraphs about the terminal, wholesalers and farmers fear that that the province is considering selling the facility, moving it, or breaking it up into smaller regional centres. They say doing any of these could harm the businesses and individuals that depend on the terminal and also raise prices to consumers.
One wholesaler quoted in the report said that selling the terminal would result in “the death of independent retailers in eastern Canada.”
Mike Longo, Longo's vice president of fresh merchandising, says that up to 70 per cent of produce sold in Longo’s stores comes from the terminal.
“If you didn’t have it consolidated, you wouldn’t have the same level of competition, and prices would go up,” he said. “That would definitely have an impact on the consumer.”
Photo: Ontario Food Terminal