Thomas Canning looking to China for expansion, investment

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Windsor Star/Carolyn Thompson

Thomas Canning is looking to expand its organic Utopia brand in China, and to seek direct Chinese investment in its local operations.

Company president Bill Thomas attended the APEC China Business Council Forum in Toronto last month, meeting with Chinese investors and Canadian government officials to discuss opportunities between the two countries.

Thomas said in Canada the organic market occupies a small percentage of total consumption. With Canada’s population, there just isn’t much room to expand.

“The opportunities are great, but the opportunities for growth are not so great,” he said. “My objective is to be 100 per cent organic someday, and if that’s going to happen we have to turn our sights south to the U.S., east towards China, into countries that have more of a population.”

In April, the company announced a $25-million deal to ship Utopia brand canned tomatoes to Nigeria, where the population of around 167 million means the organic market could have a larger market.

He said tomato consumption may be lower in a country like China, where tomatoes aren’t typically a part of traditional diets.

“However, (the population) is so large that even that small piece of the pie means something,” he said. [Read More]