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expand the demand among our internationalmarkets knowing that theywanted B.C. blueberries because of their high quality and considered one of the healthiest and safe food products produced in theworld.” Etsellwanted it noted that they do

service the domesticmarket aswell. “The CPMA (Canadian Produce

Marketing Association) does that for uswith an annual showin ourmajor cities. It is one of the best target market programs for us,with amajor emphasis onOntario, Alberta and B.C. “Not only are these provinceswith

themost people, but also the provinces that are asking for our blueberries. Andwewant tomake surewe service our Canadian markets as bestwe can.” The CPMA’s only Canadian show

held yearlymoves fromone big city to another,moving between Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. This exposes themto where the demand is highest for B.C. blueberries. Earlier this year, Etsellwas part of

anOttawa-sponsored trademission to China.During that event B.C. agricultureministerNormLetnick signed an agreement that could result in Chinese government approval to allowCanada to export B.C. blueberries into China starting next year. Etsellwas asked if BC growers can

supply China’s demands. “‘There has been a huge increase in

the growth of our blueberry crop, and we certainly have enough berries, but we have faced disease challenges over the past couple of years. “Despite this problemwe have still

managed to increase our production and I think our consistency of supply has been good. The question is, can anybody supply all of China’s needs? I don’t think so. Butwe are definitely set up to try and supply China.” Etsell says frozen berries could

easily be shipped to China. “In any given year, the B.C.

blueberry industry processes 50 per cent of its crop as fresh product, and the other 50 per cent as frozen product. This year,we had a large volume of blueberries for processing andwe produced some of themost beautiful IQF blueberries ever seen in B.C. The quality surprised international buyers, she said. “Our technology has

taken a big step forwardwith a big increase in the number of IQF tunnels in the past two years.Our IQF production hasmoved us closer to being able to supply berries year round.” Several processors have purchased

expensive newequipment that allows themto quick freeze blueberries. They are frozen to 29 degrees Celsius at the rate of 10,000 pounds each hour and loaded in totes that can be equippedwith temperature control mechanisms to help ensure the quality of the berries ismaintained throughout the shipping cycle. Japan is another country inwhich

B.C. exhibits annually. (Itwas the first country to recognize the potential health benefits of the blueberry.) Etsell pointed out that Japan is

Canada’s second-largest trading partner outside of theU.S. for blueberries, and says that is somethingwe should celebrate. “We have a good relationshipwith

Japan andwe have been able to alwaysmeet their quality demands, which has been a real achievement.” India is considered bymost to be

an emergingmarket. “It is notwell established,”

observed Etsell, “but it is something we areworking on and building. When you considerwhat the populations of India and China are, the potential for future trade expansion is huge. Another country of interest that

might surprise some is theUnited Arab Emirates. “It is becoming an export center

and it opens a door to thewhole of theMiddle East,” explained Etsell. “Our reach through theUAEmarket outlet is very broad. Interestingly Chinese buyers attend theUAE show becausewe do not currently have any market access into China.” RecentlyOttawa concluded a free-

trade agreementwith South Korea that allows B.C. blueberries into that country.However there is a hitch. BC producerswere hoping for a tariff free arrangement. Instead they have to pay an annual tariff thatwill be reduced over a seven year period until it reaches zero.” Etsellwas asked to describewhat

an average showboothwould look like. “Well, the biggest thing youwould notice is thatwe always try and

6 British Columbia Berry Grower • Winter 2014-15

exhibitwithin a Canadian pavilionwith the name of our local partner (or partners) prominently displayed. In our pavilion would be a nice large display of B.C. Blueberries. Also in our booth youwould be able to sample some of the berries. “In emergingmarketswhere people don’t

knowmuch about our blueberrieswe usually have recipe cards to hand out showing themwhat they can dowith blueberries. In order tomake sure visitors understand the recipe cards, they are printed in both English and the local language.Wewould also bemaking smoothies to showpeople a tastyway to use the berry. Feedback fromthose attending these

presentations has been positive. ”Everybody’s first reaction is howjuicy

and sweet-tasting the blueberries are, and howgood they look,” commented Etsell. Looking forward to the future Etsell says,

“We are still in the process of putting together a plan to implement a check-off systemthatwill underwrite the cost of our research programs,which are geared to developing newand improved disease-free varieties of blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries; and promotions. “We nowhave the full involvement of all

three berry sectors in coordinating our future efforts.”

Lower Mainland Horticulture Improvement Association

Horticulture Growers

Short Course 2015

January 29 - 31 Tradex, Abbotsford

In partnership with the 

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