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up front By Bryden Winsby

Ah, yes—the joys of competition... “I

say always thatwe love competitionbecause it givesusmore reasons

to improve.”Nodoubt you’ve heardthat statement or a similar versionexpressing a chirpy,upbeat attitude toward doingbusiness. In this particular instance,

the statementwasmade recently byRonald Brown, president of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association. There’s a lot of truthinit, of course.But

honing the competitive edge canalsobe a huge challenge, consuming time,physical andmental energy, andmoney. Chile, as youmight also be aware, is

nipping at our heels as theworld’s leading exporter of blueberries. And, like ourselves, the bulk of its exports presently go to theU.S.,which in turn ranks as the third-largest exporter. Last year, Chile’s fruit growers and

exporterswere hit by a severe frost in September. Port strikes early this year added delays and uncertainty about the consistency of Chile’s fruit supply, and the country also received a shot of cold weather this fall, but it’s expected to have very little effect on Chile’s fruit output. Although its exports of blueberries to soared tomore than 66,517metric tons in 2012-14 from about 35,000metric tons in 2008-09, the Chilean industry iswell aware of emergingmarkets elsewhere.

As global production of

blueberries increases,with new acres, farming and processing efficiencies, the competition is going to get keener. Overseas demand for blueberries

has boomed, especially in Japan, China, SouthKorea—and Europe. The Americans knowit, and so do the Chileans,who last year shipped about 17 per cent of their blues to

Europe and six per cent to Asia. Manufacturers are producing

blueberry-containing products at record clips,which accounts for ongoing demand for frozen blueberries, juices and concentrates. None of this is lost on the B.C.

Blueberry Council,which, as you’ll see in the next fewpages, has been putting considerable effort into attracting offshore customers. As council executive directorDebbie Etsell explains, a particular focus has been placed on the EuropeanUnion’s 28member nations, which is nomean feat, considering how fractious and un-unified some of those members can be. Rather like a promotional herding of

cats. Also in this issue, there’s a recap of

this year’s berry harvest,which benefited greatly fromfineweather and pollinating conditions. And fineweatherwas the order of the

day in Septemberwhen the new CranberryResearch Farmhad its official opening, an event that provided a perfect opportunity to recognize the efforts of industry stalwart JackWessel. Elsewhere,we have a profile on yet

another berry operation that has given serious attention to the production of wine. Langley’s AlfKrause points out that it’s a naturalway to give full meaning to the farm’s ‘Everything Berry’ slogan. Andwith table, sparkling and dessert offerings—14wines in all —they’re not just dabbling in it. This issue includes detail on howthe

funding came together in Chilliwack for the newExcellence in Agriculture Centre at theUniversity of the Fraser Valley. It’s a high-end addition toUFV’s agriculture school,which first opened its doors in 1974. If you haven’t yet considered

attending January’s 17th annual Pacific Agriculture Show, you can check out what could be of interest among the guest speakers and specialized sessions. And finally, find out howone family

hasmade health and safety a key component of their nursery’s corporate culture. Enjoy.

If you or your organization would like additional copies of BCBerry Grower, just let us know! Provide the names and complete addresses of the recipients and we’ll add them to our mailing list ... at no cost! Just email

4 British Columbia Berry Grower • Winter 2014-15

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