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Streef gears up for growing

General Manager Chris Streef of Streef Produce Ltd. is pleased business is back on track this year. Last April, the combination grower-importer-wholesaler was hit with a frost at the beginning of the crop, which knocked it down 30 percent.

This spring, Mr. Streef is looking forward to continued involvement with OPMA initiatives as the company gears up for the season.

Mr. Streef noted that his company is one of the few houses on the Ontario Food Terminal to have a hand in both growing and wholesale buying, which allows him a unique perspective on the business. He knows what it costs to put things into the ground and how that affects getting the best return. “We’re a grower, so we understand,” said Mr. Streef.

Noting his product stays in Ontario, Mr. Streef has meetings with his major customers coming up where he will discuss customer needs and the summer forecast so he can make decisions on how to market and whether to go to outside sources before harvesting.

He’s also mulling over the implications of the government’s proposal to eliminate standardized containers for the six commodities left that are currently standardized. Mr. Streef feels the move will be “good from a marketing standpoint because of the greater freedom in branding”. However, the picture is “not so good from an inventory and cost perspective.”

As a terminal tenant, he’s delighted at the success of last year’s Taste of the Food Terminal event, which will be a little different this year and held earlier due to planned construction at the facility.

Visitors will be able to tour the terminal May 25 to see the inner workings. Mr. Streef said he appreciates that the event shows the “important role this market plays in the local economy.”

He is also drawn to education programs and is the current vice chair of the OPMA, which he sees as a great advocate for the Ontario industry.

A family man with a new baby expected in May — joining his 2-year-old son, Logan — Mr. Streef likes the association’s focus on educating children early on about good eating habits. Noting that it is difficult to educate the general public as a whole, Mr. Streef said it makes sense to start with children and see the positive effects of the programs over time.