By Tom Collins
People will go to great lengths to eat sweet corn, including pushing customers out of the way when there’s a sale.
Over the Labour Day long weekend, a Toronto No-Frills grocery store was selling sweet corn for $1.68 a dozen, leading to chaos as shoppers rushed for the summer delicacy. While that price could be a record low, many chain stores sold sweet corn for about $2 a dozen during the summer. At the same time, Ontario farmers were selling sweet corn for as much as $9 a dozen at roadside stands and farm markets.
About 20 years ago, however, it was a different story, as roadside-stand prices were competitive with grocery stores. What changed? Eastern Ontario farmers say grocery stores sell the sweet corn at a loss to get more people into the store who will then buy more expensive items. Roadside stands, however, make their business on convenience of location, attracting commuters on the way home from work.
“It doesn’t make sense for a farm (to sell for so cheap),” said Port Perry’s Jordan McKay. “We don’t have all of the other products to make the margins on. We’ve got to make margins on what we produce.”
Ian McGregor, of McGregor Farms at Braeside in Renfrew County, said his farm’s costs have risen dramatically and he could never sell sweet corn prices as low as some grocery stores. “I don’t know how people can sell it for ($2 a dozen),” he said. “We’d be out of business.”