June 19, 2014 - 1:33 PM
OKANAGAN — A new trade agreement was made this week between Canada and China to ship Okanagan cherries over seas. The two parties have been operating market deals on a trial basis for two years (the 2014 season is the second year) and are extending their relationship with the longer agreement.
The B.C. Minister of Agriculture, Norm Letnick, said the new deal will generate millions of dollars a year in new revenue.
There are three key aspects to the agreement, said Glen Lucas, general manager of the B.C. Fruit Growers' Association. First of all, the average income in China is increasing, and more people can afford premium products like B.C. cherries. Secondly, cherries hold cultural value in Chinese culture. And lastly, Chinese people feel foods grown in Canada are pure, natural and healthy.
Lucas said the trade deal is an excellent opportunity for the province and the Okanagan region. Approximately 50 per cent of Okanagan cherries will be shipped to China every season. Cherries generated $160 million dollars in economic activity, according to the 2011 agricultural census.
China is the fastest growing market for cherries compared to the U.S. and European markets Canada also has deals with, Lucas said.
And the economic growth in China could change the competitive price of cherries, but the cherry industry is also growing in Okanagan, which could bid down the prices, he said.
There have been some large investments in land for cherry orchards — some up to 100 acres of plantable land —which will help the industry access foreign markets.
But people living in the Okanagan shouldn’t worry about not having any cherries — there will still be plenty to feed the local market, Lucas said. They may have to shell out a few more dollars for their produce, depending on how the market responds to increasing international trade.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014