Canada doesn't tap full potential to export fruit to Europe

Canada has huge opportunities to export fruit to Europe, but that potential remains untapped despite the trade opening between the nations of the European Union and the North American country. That is the key message that will be conveyed this month by Canadians visiting the trade fair Fruit Attraction. The goal is to increase the sale of blueberries, cherries and other products from Canada.

Canada and the Middle East will be in the spotlight in this year's edition of Fruit Attraction, which will be held in Madrid, Spain, from October 23 to 25. Canadian visitors, including an official delegation, are hoping to give a boost to the commercial exchange between both parties and increase the export of the country's fruits.

Especially since the entry into force of the trade agreement between the European Union and Canada (CETA) in September 2017, a large number of Canadian exporters have held the belief that there is still a huge untapped potential. As a result, they also think that the export of fruit should be promoted. The agreement remains so far marked by the domination of agricultural product imports originating in Europe.

Constant growth
Kelly Shabatowski, an export sales agent who works for Consolidated Fruit Packers (CFP), which is based in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Canada, currently exports cherries, blueberries and fresh apples to several countries around the world and has had an extremely successful 2018 season. CFP was founded in 1993 as a company dedicated to the sale and marketing of fresh blueberries. Although blueberries are still the company's flagship product, other local fruits have since been added to the range, including cherries, stone fruit, pears and multiple apple varieties.

CFP has teamed up with several producers in the Okanagan Valley and does not only market its Big Taste brand, but also other independent brands owned by local growers. As a result, these manage to reach several wholesale and retail outlets across the European continent.

Shabatowski said that "since the signing of the CETA, exports to Europe have been growing steadily and have given Canada a great advantage to become more competitive. This is being achieved mostly thanks to the elimination of tariffs and taxes on the goods that we currently export. There are still endless possibilities to be explored in Europe. With this in mind, CFP has implemented a strategic plan to take advantage of the benefits offered by the new trade agreement between Europe and Canada."

Strong competition
Despite all of the above, there are still people working in the fresh produce sector in Canada who advise caution. One of them is Beth Cavers, manager of the British Columbia Cherry Association program, who said that although the CETA's ratification is undoubtedly very good for the region's cherry exports, shipping to Europe has become difficult given the strong competition against fruit producers based in the Old Continent. Cavers added that with the application of the new European legislation on plant health, as of December 2019, the export of Canadian cherries to Europe could also be affected.

The fair Fruit Attraction 2018 will take place in the convention center of the Feria de Madrid, in Madrid, Spain, from October 23 to 25, 2018.

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