Canadian producers of natural Christmas trees have had busy weeks. Canada is, behind the United States and Germany, the third largest producer in the world, although it tops the list of exporters. Its growers export around 1.5 million trees, 85% of the national production. These pines and firs reach countries like Panama, France, Jamaica and the Philippines, but Americans are their main customers. The problem is that this year the demand of the southern neighbor grew considerably, causing shortages and higher prices for many of the Canadians for the first time in a decade. In provinces such as Alberta – located in the west of the country – the cost of traditional Christmas decorations has increased up to 25%, while in Quebec, where more trees are produced, increases of between 10 and 15% are recorded.
The Canadian Association of Christmas tree producers said in a statement that this situation is the result of two specific events. On the one hand, the US crisis of 2008 had a strong impact on the pockets of consumers, thus causing the cultivation areas to be reduced due to the inability to cut the trees that were not going to be sold. In addition, climatic variations in recent years damaged not a few specimens. "It takes about 10 years for these trees to grow," said this association. Thus, several producers in the United States had to request a higher number of Canadian pines and firs.
Ontario, Nova Scotia and British Columbia have numerous companies specialized in this Christmas decoration, but Quebec is the province with the highest activity in the sector: 55% of the national production. According to a report from the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the United States produced 17.3 million trees in 2015, but 15.1 million in 2017. In addition, its population had an increase of 11 million people in that period. "The good performance of the US economy in recent years has certainly allowed households to spend more on these holidays," the report adds.
Brock Friesen, a tree producer in Alberta, pointed to Radio-Canada that the most requested varieties increased by 25% in this province. "I know it's a lot, but we had no choice," Friesen said. British Columbia also faced difficulties in satisfying the provincial demand because of the high orders coming from the United States. In Quebec, prices rose this year between 10% and 15%.
Rejection of synthetic trees
Earlier this month, Canadian producers of natural Christmas trees appeared in the media, but for another reason. Canadian Tire, one of the largest chains of household items in the country, spread an advertisement inviting the population to opt for synthetic trees. Canadian producers called for the withdrawal of the announcement, noting that natural trees grow in controlled areas and release oxygen for years, while artificial trees are made from petroleum products. However, Canadian Tire did not cancel advertising, as it said it also sells natural Christmas trees in its facilities.