Woman working in a greenhouse

Agriculture and Agri-Tech

The thriving agriculture and agri-tech sector in the Windsor-Essex region is a key industry, with over 12,000 employees working in more than 100 food and beverage processing companies and almost 4,000 growing operations. A temperate climate, long growing season, technologically advanced growing systems, efficient cross-border logistics and close proximity to consumer-rich U.S. markets all make Windsor-Essex an enviable Canadian leader in agri-business.

Industry profile

Our area’s 3,500-plus acres of greenhouse operations make Windsor-Essex home to the largest vegetable greenhouse cluster in North America, and second-largest in the world. Businesses enjoy a very productive 212-day growing season, on average, every year.

A major driver of the regional economy, the food and beverage processing sector generates over $3 billion in annual GDP, making it Windsor-Essex’s second-largest manufacturing sector. Approximately 80 per cent of Ontario’s greenhouse vegetable acreage is in Windsor-Essex and over 70 per cent of our farmers’ produce is exported to the U.S. Because it is primarily an export industry, our lower Canadian dollar helps food processing companies by offering food and beverage products at very attractive prices in export markets.


Our bustling farm-to-table industry and farmers’ markets produce delicious food for any meal. In our region, growers produce:

  • Field crops – corn, carrot, onion, barley, soybeans, peas, tomatoes and wheat
  • Specialty crops – cannabis, white beans, coloured beans, herbs and mushrooms
  • Livestock – beef, pork, poultry and eggs
  • Dairy – milk, cream, cheese, yogurt and specialty products
  • Fruits and vegetables – apples, grapes, tender fruits and berries, tomatoes, spinach, cucumbers and corn

Top greenhouse brands from Windsor-Essex, Ont.

Food and Beverage Processing

Food and beverage processing and distribution play a significant role in the local economy, with food and beverage being the region’s second-largest manufacturing sector, generating over $3 billion in revenue annually. Windsor and Essex County benefit from a strong food production base, a variety of small and large processors, and a local geography that is proximal to the United States and main transportation routes. Technology and local research and innovation across the manufacturing sector means Windsor and Essex County are well positioned to grow in food and beverage processing and distribution sectors. Because it is primarily an export industry, our lower Canadian dollar helps food processing companies by offering food and beverage products at very attractive prices in export markets.

Top food and beverage manufacturing brands from Windsor-Essex, Ont.


Surrounded by the Great Lakes freshwater system that provides quality, reliable water sources, and located among Canada’s “deep south” (roughly the same latitude as northern California), the region’s favourable, consistent weather makes it ideal for growers and food processors.


Our strategic location on the border of the U.S., across from Detroit, Michigan, offers the sector a significant cross-border logistics industry that facilitates access to international markets. Integrated, temperature-controlled distribution allows fresh products to quickly move to market. Duty-free access to the U.S., Mexico and Europe also makes the region an excellent centre for agriculture and food processing.

Leaders in wine production

Our region features over 15 local wineries, with more coming online every year. Windsor-Essex’s topographic and climatic conditions lend themselves favourably to producers, who provide all sorts of varietals, including Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Our wine industry’s 154 days of growing temperatures and almost 200 days of frost-free conditions delight winery owners, with export market sales booming, including those to China. 


A rapidly growing market legalized cannabis distribution in Canada, has opened up opportunities for licensed producers, especially in Windsor-Essex. An analysis of the industry by New Frontier Data, a cannabis research firm, noted that the Canadian cannabis industry could be worth up to $5.8 billion by 2024.

Tilray Inc., (formerly Aphria Inc.), a vertically integrated Canadian medical cannabis company, is one of our area’s licensed producers allowed to cultivate and sell cannabis under Canadian regulations.

Research, innovation and food safety

The region’s Harrow Research and Development Centre, part of Canada’s network of 21 research centers, is a leading greenhouse research facility in North America. It focuses on developing and transferring new technologies for greenhouse vegetables, ornamentals and field crops, including soybeans, edible beans, corn, winter wheat and tomatoes. Led by experts in various agricultural fields, the center conducts crucial research in plant breeding, crop physiology, entomology, plant pathology, weed science and social science.

Ongoing research areas include:

  • Food source traceability
  • Integrated pest management
  • Waste reduction
  • Sustainable greenhouse crop production
  • Development of agricultural practices for improved soil health and environmental quality

Advanced technology for a competitive advantage

The Windsor-Essex region features a cutting-edge manufacturing sector, which translates into major benefits for agriculture and agri-tech. With a rich history in innovation and efficient operations that have produced high-quality goods for 150 years, leading technologies help industry members gain competitive advantages by optimize yield, BRIX count and grow times.

Quality control

New technologies are also helping our food processors automate quality control, ensuring that every food product is sent to market fully inspected by skilled workers and robotic vision systems. This helps optimize quality, efficiency and food safety.