Progress made in fresh B.C. blueberry exports to China

AGRICULTURE Minister Norm Letnick on Wednesday congratulated the governments of Canada and China on the progress that has been made towards the goal of full, unimpeded access for fresh British Columbia blueberries into China.

Letnick said: “I want to congratulate the governments of Canada and China on reaching the important initialling stage. I understand there is still some work to be done, and I look forward to further progress over the summer. I am happy to see we have reached this point and B.C. blueberry growers could be looking at up to $65 million worth of exports a year once an agreement is fully implemented.

“Last year, I led a B.C. delegation including representatives from B.C.’s blueberry, cherry and speciality meat industry on a successful trade mission to China. The ‘Building Markets for B.C. Foods’ themed trade mission saw several deals including an agreement for fresh B.C. cherries into China. I am excited to see our B.C. blueberry industry could soon have the same access.

“In 2013, blueberries accounted for 50% of B.C.’s total berry production and exports of more than $154 million.

“China is the second-largest export market for B.C. agrifoods. In 2014, we exported $264 million worth of exports to China setting a record for the fifth year in a row, more than doubling the $118 million total in 2010.

“The B.C. government will continue to promote the growth and production of high-value, high-quality B.C. fruit, and help develop a stronger, more sustainable sector that results in growers earning more dollars.

“Building markets for B.C. products is part of our government’s efforts to encourage young farmers to enter the profession, support food security in our province, and grow B.C.’s agrifood revenues to $14 billion a year by 2017.”