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Canadawide excited about QPMA opportunities

When summer comes around, those at Montreal-based produce wholesaler Canadawide always look forward to attending the annual Quebec Produce Marketing Association, and co-owner George Pitsikoulis takes an eager team with him every year.

“The convention is first rate in terms of organizing an enjoyable and interesting networking environment for our industry,” he said. “Of course, most attendees are based locally representing a cross section of our industry. We are honored to also have attendees from other parts of Canada as well as the U.S.”

Networking is an important part of growth, and in his opinion, there’s not a better place to meet with the movers and shakers in Canada’s produce industry than at this show.

CW “There are banquets, different get-togethers, good speakers and we get to talk with a lot of people,” said Pitsikoulis, who is a past chair of the convention. “One of our key people over here is now a director on the board and we still get together for meetings and we’ve been supporing the show forever.”

There’s also some downtime when he can discuss non-business items with those he has met in the industry over the years, as well as the business at large.

The company, run by George and his brothers Nick and Michael, operate more than 7,000 palates of storage space and have seen the company grow year over year, increasing in both box count and overall sales figures.

The company has 44 shipping docks, more than 30 cold rooms and banana ripping rooms, with its ultramodern facilities utilizing the latest technologies for produce storage and conservation. Canadawide imports fruits and vegetables from more than 30 countries from all corners of the world and has built its reputation on the vast amount of produce it supplies, investing in new products, ideas and ways of packaging. Annually, it works with more than 14,000 SKU a year with a customer base that includes retailers, food wholesalers, food processing companies and major grocery chains.

“I believe in the produce industry and it’s all onwards and upwards,” Pitsikoulis said. “People are eating more fresh produce and we are the darling category of food. As a result, there’s been a lot of organic growth.”

Although Canadawide has been in its new facility for just a handful of years, it’s already approaching capacity and there’s already thoughts of expanding even more.

“There’s a lot of strong movement,” Pitsikoulis said. “We have 22 different buyers over here. Tree fruit is growing like gangbusters, cherries are big. There’s been some shortness in watermelons, and corn is hot, though there’s not much around. Market trends adjust all the time.”

Looking ahead to the QPMA, Pitsikoulis is looking forward to networking, attending the various organized events and is interested in seeing the reworked and improved “Speed Meeting” your mentors program.

“The message I hope to tell is how fortunate we all are to be involved in such a dynamic and health providing industry,” he said.

“This is a networking event that is second to none. It is basically the voice of our industry for those based within Quebec. This is our voice.”