At daybreak this morning, BC cherry growers woke to good news that federal Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz, announced an agreement that opens the door for Canadian cherries to be exported Into China.
Ritz is in Beijing on a Canadian government trade mission.
David Geen, Chair of the BC Cherry Association’s Market Access Committee, said this morning that China is very important for BC’s rapidly increasing cherry production.
Although BC cherries are already exported to more than 20 countries around the world, China represents an enormous new market opportunity with very strong demand for the quality of fruit that BC can produce.
“Cherries are a highly perishable fruit – with a lot of competition in the markets,” said Geen. “Expanding the marketing options strengthens sales and returns to producers”.
2013 will be a pilot year, with restrictions and limited volumes, while the agreed shipping protocols are tested by the Chinese.
The BC Cherry Association has been seeking access to China for over six years, and credit both the federal and provincial government for their unprecedented support on this trade issue over that time.
Geen says the Canadian Food Inspection Agency worked in close consultation with industry throughout the process and played a critical role in negotiating the successful outcome.
The BC Cherry Association is looking forward to hosting Chinese inspectors, expected to be here for much of the harvest this season.
The 2013 BC cherry crop volume is expected to be lower than normal, but this promises extra large, premium quality cherries – an excellent launch year for BC cherry sales into China.