Justice Minister David Lametti and Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr share a smile at Hillcrest Farm during the federal investment announcement. (David Venn - Kelowna Capital News)

Feds invest a quarter million into B.C. cherry industry

South Korea is the next big market the B.C. Cherry Association is aiming for

Justice Minister David Lametti stopped in at Hillcrest Farm on Tuesday, Aug.13, with Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr and members of the BC Cherry Association to announce recent funding on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture and to take a picture at the Hillcrest cherry face cut-outs.

The federal government is investing $241,000 into the BC Cherry Association to enhance global market research and grow Canada’s cherry exports internationally.

“This investment will support the sector in marketing high quality and great tasting cherries to customers here in Canada and around the world,” Minister Lametti said.

READ MORE: Possibly worst Okanagan cherry season in 20 years

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With investment from the industry, in which members of the cherry association pay a levee for, the total comes to $482,000.

Sweet cherries are the eighth largest fruit commodity in land usage at 2,097-hectares yet are the second most valuable fruit export with over 10,000 metric tonnes being shipped overseas, according to 2017 statistics published by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Following the United States, China and Japan are the next leading consumers of Canadian fruits, but David Geen, vice-president of the cherry association, not only are they looking to increase exports to existing markets but narrow their sight on other Asian countries.

“(South) Korea is a very important cherry market and that’s the next one we are working on,” Geen said. “So we hope that that’s going to be in a couple of years.”

READ MORE: North Okanagan cherry crops take bigger hit than south

Minister Lametti expressed the importance of the B.C. cherry industry in context with the Canadian economy. He said that 96 per cent of sweet cherries are harvested in B.C.

“You are vital to our government’s strong trade agenda,” he said. “And that’s why we want to keep your industry strong and growing.”

The government, according to Minister Lametti, set a target of $75 billion in agri-food export by 2025; which the cherry industry is paramount in.



David Venn
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
Email me at david.venn@kelownacapnews.com
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