Christine Dendy, Dendy Orchards
It has been a busy fruit picking season at Dendy Orchards, a family-run business in East Kelowna that has been operating for more than 100 years.
There is special reason to celebrate this year. Christine Dendy and 16 other cherry shippers – representing more than 100 growers – are now slapping stickers on cherry boxes that say: “For Export to China”.
It took seven years of negotiation before China signed a new International Trade Agreement earlier this year, opening its doors to fresh B.C. cherries.
This is a big deal. China is the number one cherry market in the world. B.C. cherry farmers are expecting to increase their exports to China by ten-fold.
“It’s a huge opportunity. It could mean millions of dollars for Cherry Farmers. It’s a great relief, considering the growth in B.C. production we’re seeing,” says Dendy. There will be new job opportunities in picking, packing, shipping and marketing.
Food export deals are difficult to negotiate. They require food safety assurances, pest mitigation control plans and transportation logistics to ensure goods get to market on time and in peak condition. The B.C. government worked closely with cherry growers, the federal government and Chinese importers to reach this agreement.
Vancouver International Airport is the only airport in North America with direct non-stop service to five cities in China.
Finally, B.C. cherries are on their way to China as fresh as the day they were picked.
“Cherries are a very competitive product and access to strong markets such as China means a lot to our industry,” says Dendy.
With this international trade deal in place, farmers remain hopeful that China will open its doors even wider, offering access to other kinds of B.C. fruits and food products.