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A group of 20 small- and medium-sized greenhouse owners in the Leamington, ON, area has banded together to collectively market its products.

Andrew Przytocki, owner of Canpol Greenhouses Inc. in Leamington, one of the 20 producers involved in the venture, told The Produce News May 20, "Our group has purchased equal shares of Clifford Produce, an existing marketing company that handled about 50 acres of greenhouse produce. Our combined product, now totaling about 150 acres of cluster and beefsteak tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, will be marketed by Clifford Produce and will be branded with the 'Payssane' label."

Mr. Przytocki, a driving force behind the merger, said that prior to the agreement, Clifford Produce and the other now partner-producers were at a disadvantage on the marketing level.

"The many marketer and broker mergers in recent years resulted in way too many middle men," said Mr. Przytocki. "These organizations have a lot of negotiating power, and they can control the market when they have the volumes they need. But that doesn't mean that growers get the best return possible. And we were often required to sell on consignment, which is not a sound business choice. We felt the scenario created a conflict of interest that was unhealthy to all of our businesses."

Some time ago, Mr. Przytocki began researching models in Holland and other areas in an attempt to find a system that would work best for the Leamington producers. When he found one that he felt was right for this group of greenhouse growers, he approached them with the idea. The pieces then fell in place.

"By bringing our product and energies under one roof, we will have the volume that buyers want," he said. "And by doing our own marketing, we can avoid consignments or competing prices. It gives all of us better control. I want buyers to compete against each other for our product -- not with our product."

Mr. Przytocki said that the newly formed group has just begun harvesting its crops, and Clifford Produce's first action under the new merger is marketing the crop.