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Shipping Canadian Vegetables

Canadian vegetables line United States supermarket shelves. The U.S. is the top export destination from vegetables from Canada. This creates lots of opportunities for far

By

Laura Isaacs
October 3, 2019
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Canadian vegetables line United States supermarket shelves. The U.S. is the top export destination from vegetables from Canada. This creates lots of opportunities for farmers and distributors to ship their harvest south. Getting your harvest on the move comes with many challenges. From getting it there on time to packing to dealing with import/export regulations, there are many considerations to keep in mind. 

According to information from the Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC), the top Canadian vegetables coming into the U.S. include:

  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers

Canadian vegetables shipped into the U.S. are subject to regulations set by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), along with regulations set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Shipping Canadian vegetables requires careful coordination between your logistics partner and these organizations.

What are the Most Popular Vegetables in Canada?

When it comes to producing Canadian vegetables the top 3 provinces for planted areas are Ontario (48%), Quebec (36%) and Alberta and British Columbia (8%). This data comes from the CHC. It represents figures from the 2015 Statistical Overview of the Canadian Vegetable Industry. 

While the top commodities shipped into the U.S. are peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers, the top planted commodities in Canada are:

  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Beans

The most valuable planted commodities for Candian farmers are:

  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes

Other popular vegetables grown in Canada include:

  • Apples
  • Beets
  • Black
  • currants
  • Blueberries
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Butternut squash
  • Elderberries
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Mustard greens
  • Sour cherries

While the most popular destination for exported Canadian vegetables is the United States, other destinations for exported vegetables include Japan and the Netherlands. 

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Bite into the Canadian Vegetable IndustryBite into the Canadian Vegetable Industry

Canadian vegetables are healthy and high quality. Canadian farmers rely on technology and new techniques to optimize growing and production. This creates a farmer-friendly business climate that lends itself toward exporting. Shipping Canadian vegetables is an important part of exporting crops. 

The Canadian vegetable industry is growing in value. The country’s field vegetable industry was worth a whopping $1.2 billion in 2017, up 2% from the previous year. The most profitable field vegetables in Canada are:

  • Carrots ($130 million)
  • Tomatoes ($110 million)
  • Dry onions ($91 million)
  • Lettuce ($79 million)
  • Sweet corn ($80 million)
  • Cabbages ($73 million)
  • Broccoli ($72 million)

Ontario leads the nation in field vegetable production, with 44% of all Canadian field vegetables coming from this province. Quebec is close behind, with 38% of Canadian field vegetables coming from the French-speaking province. 

Mushrooms are also a healthy part of the Canadian vegetable industry. In fact, the total value of mushrooms grown in Canada expanded more than 4% in 2016 and nearly 3% in 2017. The growth is attributed to higher prices for the product. The value of Canadian mushrooms sits above $530 million. 

Greenhouse vegetables are also big business in Canada. The value of the greenhouse vegetable sector reached $1.4 billion in 2017. This number reflects a growth of 7%. Greenhouse vegetables grown in Canada include:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Peppers
  • Green beans
  • Eggplant 
  • Herbs

Export is a huge part of Canada’s vegetable industry. Both field and greenhouse vegetables are regularly exported. According to numbers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the value of exported Canadian vegetables reached nearly $2 billion in 2017, up nearly 6 percent. It’s important to know that 98% of all of Canada’s exported vegetables were imported into the U.S. This creates many opportunities for farmers, distributors, retailers and others interested in shipping Canadian vegetables into the U.S.

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Shipping Canadian Vegetables and Produce

The way vegetables are shipped from Canada to the U.S. can make your break your profit margins. Fresh vegetables and fruit present many shipping challenges. First and foremost, shipping fresh vegetables and produce requires time-sensitive and fast-paced logistics. The most important part of shipping Canadian vegetables and produce is making sure it gets to the end consumer at its freshest point.

There is little room for error when it comes to shipping Canadian vegetables and produce. Vegetable shelf-life needs to be taken into consideration. One way to keep vegetables fresh during shipping is through the cold chain logistics process.

The cold chain logistics process refers to a temperature-controlled supply chain. To keep vegetables at peak freshness, the cold chain must never be broken. Cold chain logistics involves uninterrupted temperature-controlled production, transportation, storage and distribution. These constantly controlled temperatures help maintain freshness.

Links in the cold chain logistics process for Canadian vegetables might include:

  • Cool, refrigerated processing and production areas
  • Temperature-controlled transportation
  • Refrigerated commercial warehouses
  • Cold storage at wholesale and retail locations

Packing Vegetables for Bulk ShippingPacking Vegetables for Bulk Shipping

How vegetables are packed for cross border shipping depends on the type of vegetable. In many cases, vegetables are packed in plastic wrap, styrofoam packaging or plastic bags. From there, the vegetables are packed in boxes or crates.  

When combined, these packing methods can protect the veggies from bruises and bumps along the way. The boxes and crates are then out on pallets. This means they can be easily transported by forklift when being loaded on trucks for freight shipping or stored in a warehouse along the way.

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Challenges Shipping Canadian Vegetables

There are many logistical challenges facing farmers and distributors of fresh produce, including Canadian vegetables. From the first mile to the final mile, carriers and brokers work together to get vegetables from farm to consumer quickly.

One of the challenges faced when shipping fresh vegetables is the seasonality of the produce. In Canada’s climate, the growing season lasts just 6-8 weeks in some locations. This limited window means sophisticated and well-coordinated transportation is required. 

Another challenge is consumers’ growing desire for locally sourced produce. While many vegetables come into the U.S. from Canada, some consumers prefer fruits and veggies grown in local, regional soil. 

Small farmers sometimes don’t have an entire truckload of vegetables to ship. This means smaller LTL shipments, which often have more stops along the way. This lengthen transit time, which cuts into the already short shelf life of fruits and veggies.

You can overcome many of the challenges associated with shipping Canadian vegetables by working with the right broker. 

Regulations for Shipping Canadian Vegetables into the United StatesRegulations for Shipping Canadian Vegetables into the United States

Another challenge facing those shipping Canadian vegetables into the U.S. is meeting government regulations. Perishable food items, like fruits and vegetables, face stringent regulations from the governmental agencies, along with CBP. 

Vegetables shipments from Canada are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The regulations are thorough, as transporting organic and agricultural products into the U.S. from Canada does come with a few risks. Foreign diseases and pests, for example, can unknowingly be transported into the country without stringent regulations.

When it comes to shipping Canadian vegetables, you need several documents to meet government regulations. These documents include:

  • Plant permit
  • Phytosanitary permit
  • Prior notice
  • Proof of food facility registration
  • Documentation from the FAVIR database
  • NAFTA Certificate of Origin

What is the NAFTA Certificate of Origin?

When you’re shipping Canadian vegetables into the United States, you’ll likely need a NAFTA Certificate of Origin to accompany your shipment. NAFTA is an agreement between Canada, Mexico and the U.S. preferential tariff treatment on goods coming from the three countries in the deal. You need a NAFTA Certificate of Origin to get the preferential tariff treatment.

The Certificate of Origin states that the goods coming into the country qualify for tariff treatment and summarize from where the goods came. If you’re sure your goods came from Canada, it's important to have this certificate.

There are a few circumstances in which you don’t need a Certificate of Origin, though. These situations include:

  • The commercial shipment is valued at less than $1,000
  • The goods being shipped into the U.S. or imported are non-commercial or have very limited value
  • The CBP director at the port of entry has waived the requirement in writing because he or she is certain the goods qualify for preferential tariff treatment without documentation

Importers and exporters have a few responsibilities when using the NAFTA Certificate of Origin. If an importer is seeking preferential tariff treatment under NAFTA guidelines, they must make this clear as a declaration on their import documentation. If they don’t make the claim on their documentation, the importer has one year to seek preferential tariff treatment. 

Additionally, importers need to be able to provide a Certificate of Origin to customs officials upon request when bringing goods into the country. They must also be able to submit corrected information in a timely matter should there be a mistake. If you’re importing Canadian vegetables into the U.S., CBP may deny preferential tariff treatment if Certificate of Origin guidelines aren’t met.

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Importers and exporters are responsible for keeping records of the NAFTA Certificate of Origin for up to 5 years. They must also be able to provide records to CBP during this 5-year period upon request. If anything about the import changes or new information about origin surfaces, importers and exporters must provide new information to CBP.

Other Documents Needed for Shipping Canadian Vegetables

In addition to the regulations and NAFTA Certificate of Origin, you’ll need a few other documents to clear U.S. customs with your shipment of vegetables from Canada. 

The following documents are needed with every import coming into the U.S., including fruits and vegetables:

  • Customs bond
  • Bill of Lading
  • Commercial invoice
  • Packing list
  • Arrival notice

Customs Bond

A customs bond is an agreement that must accompany all imports coming into the U.S. It ensures all duties, taxes and fees are paid when commercial goods are imported. CBP requires that all shipments valued at more than $2,500 are accompanied by a customs bond. Imports that include goods subject to other government regulations, like Canadian fruits and vegetables, need to be accompanied by a customs bond.

A customs bond ensures that all duties on an imported item will be paid. It serves as a contractual agreement between CBP, the company that issued the bond and the importer of record. The bond promises that all fees, taxes and duties will be paid. 

Bill of Lading

Imported fruits and vegetables must also be accompanied by a bill of lading. A bill of lading is an important document. The bill of lading is issued by the carrier. It is issued to the shipper. The bill of lading details out the destination, type and quantity of goods being shipped. A bill of lading might also serve as a shipment receipt when the goods are delivered. The bill of lading stays with the shipped product, no matter how you’re shipping the product. The bill of lading must be signed by the carrier, shipper and eventually the receiver. 

Commercial Invoice

A commercial invoice is another important customs document. It is essential for foreign trade, like when you’re shipping vegetables from Canada. A commercial invoice serves as a customs declaration. It is provided by the company that is moving the goods across the international border. A commercial invoice must contain a few essential pieces of information. This information includes:

  • The parties involved in the transaction
  • The products or goods being transported
  • The country of origin and manufacture
  • The Harmonized System code for the imported goods

Packing List

The packing list is a document that defines the content and size of each package and container. It lets all parties know what’s in the package. The packing list is helpful to the carrier, customs agents and government agencies, customers and others involved with the shipping process.

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Arrival Notice

The arrival notice is a document sent by the carrier to the consignee to notify them of the shipment’s arrival at the border. The notice contains the number of packages in the shipment, their weight, a description of the goodas and any collection charges.

Shipping Canadian Vegetables Cross BorderShipping Canadian Vegetables Cross Border

There are a few important ports of entry for fruits and vegetables coming into the U.S. from Canada. Ontario and Quebec are the leading producers of vegetables coming into the U.S., popular ports of entry for getting produce across the border include:

  • Detroit, MI
  • Port Huron, MI
  • Sault Saint Marie, MI
  • Alexandria Bay, NY
  • Buffalo, NY
  • Champlain-Rouses Point, NY
  • Massena, NY
  • Ogdensburg, NY
  • Trout River, NY
  • Derby Line, VT
  • Highgate Springs, VT

When you’re shipping Canadian vegetables across the border and south into the U.S., you can make the process easier by using a PAPS number. What is a PAPS number? A PAPS number is a kind of Shipment Control Number (SCN) that is assigned by a carrier when the shipment requires pre-arrival processing, like in the case of vegetables. Using a PAPS number can speed up the processing and release of commercial goods at the border.

Formal Entry vs Informal Entry

Another important thing to be aware of when shipping Canadian vegetables into the U.S. is the method of entry. There are two major ways you can get your vegetables from Canada across the border and into the U.S.:

  1. Formal or commercial entry
  2. Informal entry

You’ll likely find that the differences are easy to understand. Formal entry requires the use of a customs broker, while informal entry does not. Informal entry requires the shipment to be accompanied by the exporter or for the consignee to collect the shipment at the port of entry.

When you’re a truckload of vegetables from Canada into the U.S., you’ll likely select a formal or commercial entry. Formal entry is required when shipments are valued at more than $2,000. If you’re shipping large amounts of Canadian vegetables across the border, you’ll need to work with a licensed customs broker. A customs broker will ensure all import and shipping paperwork is complete. A customs broker can also help guide your shipment across the border.

A customs broker can provide a number of beneficial services when you’re moving truckloads of fruit and vegetables across the U.S.-Canada border. These benefits and services include:

  • Arranging customs bonds to ensure taxes, tariffs and duties are paid
  • Getting your Canadian vegetables through customs quickly and efficiently, saving you storage costs
  • Preparing documentation needed on both sides of the border for both the U.S. and Canadian governments
  • Providing up to date information about procedures and regulations so you are armed with the proper knowledge

You can learn more about the services a licensed customs broker can offer by taking advantage of import consulting services or doing research on your own.

Shipping Canadian Vegetables with R+L Global Logistics

No matter whether you’re crossing the border with your vegetables at Detroit in Michigan or International Falls-Rainer, you’ll find shipping Canadian vegetables into the U.S. with R+L Global Logistics is simple and hassle-free. As your strategic logistics partner, we only work with the most trusted carriers to help ship everything from medical devices to vehicles. Because of our working relationships with the best carriers, we can provide on-time, intact delivery more than 99% of the time.  We can also ensure that your vegetables are kept cool and fresh during shipping and until delivery. We have staff with experience on both sides of the border and we can get your shipment across and through customs with ease. Contact us for a quote today.

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