By: Lisa Marr
Published: The Spec, Feb 06, 2014

Photo credit: Handout

Initially, researchers investigated the potential of 15 vegetables and some 700 varieties and narrowed this down to okra and two kinds of eggplant.

Lana Culley, Vineland’s director of business development, said the early research determined demand for eggplant had increased by 27 per cent between 2008 and 2012 nationally, while demand for okra had grown 55 per cent in the same period and was expected to continue to increase rapidly.

“Most of that demand is being met by imports, so we did see an opportunity in Canada.”

In the past three years, researchers also conducted blind taste tests with new Canadians in Hamilton and Toronto to discover if consumers would like the taste of Ontario-grown veggies versus okra and eggplant grown in their countries of origin.

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