VICTORIA - Okanagan cherries are one step closer to being on the shelves of luxury food markets in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, as co-operative efforts between the governments of British Columbia and Canada continue to make progress in accessing the Chinese marketplace.
An agreement signed between the governments of Canada and China in Beijing today commits the two countries to work on access for a number of specific Canadian foods, including cherries. British Columbia produced 94 per cent of Canada's sweet cherries in 2010, with top export markets including Taiwan and Hong Kong.
The Province is focusing on building export markets for B.C. food as part of the BC Jobs Plan, as international consumers look to B.C. for high-quality and trusted foods. Premier Christy Clark discussed opportunities for B.C. food producers while leading the Province's largest ever jobs and trade mission to Asia in November, 2011.
In July 2011, Canada's first dedicated cargo flights to Mainland China began from YVR to Shanghai. The three-times-per-week flights typically deliver B.C. seafood and could also carry cherries and other fresh foods. B.C. has set record exports of agrifood products to China in each of the last three years, with exports topping $100 million for the first time ever in 2010.
NOTE: On March 16, 2012, the Province of British Columbia released B.C. Agrifoods: A Strategy for Growth. What action can you take to inspire people to buy B.C. food? Join the conversation and share your ideas (engage.bcjobsplan.ca) .
Christine Dendy, Okanagan Kootenay Cherry Growers Association -
"We are very pleased to see this progress on access to China for B.C. cherries. A final agreement has the potential to immediately garner $10 million or more in cherry sales to China."
- B.C. exported about $29-million worth of cherries in 2010, with over $7.5 million to Taiwan and $5 million to Hong Kong.
- The top export markets for B.C. sweet cherries are the United States, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
- B.C. cherry growers employ over 3,000 people during the harvest season.
- B.C. exported a record $118 million of agrifoods to China in 2010.
- 2011 set a new record for B.C. food exports to China, with year-end statistics expected in mid-February.
Ministry of Agriculture