‘They’ve doubled’: Costs spiking for southern Alberta greenhouse operators

Click to play video: '‘It’s a challenge’: Greenhouses grapple with supply issues, rising costs'
‘It’s a challenge’: Greenhouses grapple with supply issues, rising costs
WATCH ABOVE: Greenhouse operators aren’t exempt from the rising cost of living in Alberta. Utility price increases, along with supply and transportation issues, have made staying in the black more difficult for some. Eloise Therien has more. – May 5, 2022

Like many Albertans, greenhouse operators are feeling the pinch of inflation and other rising expenses.

For Connie and Cullen Ng, who own Dan’s Greenhouses in Lethbridge, the major increase in costs over the last year has been related to heating.

As a seasonal facility, they begin planting in the winter.

“They’ve doubled since last year,” Cullen said.

“We just kind of have to budget it in, we just have to spend more money on everything.”

But the company, which has accumulated many regular customers over 65 years in business, is hesitant to bump up prices on its plants, flowers and other items.

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“Everything went up (in price), but we care more about supporting local — local business,” Connie explained. “We try to keep the price (for shoppers) as low as possible. So lots of stuff is the same price as last year.”

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Paul De Jonge, who owns Broxburn Vegetables & Cafe just outside the city, said he has seen at least a 10 to 20 per cent increase in overall costs this year.

“Electricity costs, we’ve seen a steady increase over the last year,” he said. “Some of my shipping costs to bring in my plants from B.C., the costs doubled. So rather significant.”

Click to play video: 'Southern Alberta greenhouse becomes sole lettuce supplier for Wendy’s Canada'
Southern Alberta greenhouse becomes sole lettuce supplier for Wendy’s Canada

Whole Leaf, an indoor lettuce producer in Coaldale, has a co-generation facility in partnership with Signalta, which offsets its natural gas, electricity and carbon dioxide.

Despite this shielding them from those price increases, general manager Archie Mpofu said the facility is still feeling the pinch in other areas.

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“We’ve seen about a 30 per cent increase in some of the inputs we use, including fertilizers and packaging supplies,” Mpofu said.

“We’re having challenges right now with just how much input costs have gone up in the past year.”

Shipping to chains across Canada such as Wendy’s, transportation has also proven to be a major expense.

“It’s been a challenge because we are not able to pass all those costs to our customers, otherwise we’d have huge increases in produce prices,” Mpofu said.

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