South Korea’s interest in cherries from Canada’s British Colombia is “exciting” in this first season of full exports to that new market for them says Claire Donahue, export coordinator for BC Tree Fruits Cooperative. She also says Canada’s apple harvest season looks to start about 10 days earlier. “We currently export to China, Malaysia and this is the first year Canada is able to export our cherries to South Korea. It is a very new and exciting opportunity for us.”
Claire Donahue and Warren Sarafinchan, CEO of BC Tree Fruits.
BC Tree Fruits are Canada’s largest fruit co-operative with 400 member growers of cherries and apples based in British Colombia. Donahue represented the co-operative at Asia Fruit Logistica’s last week. “There has been a lot of Korean presence at the show as well so that is great. While it was my first time at Asia Fruit Logistica, BC Tree Fruits have been at the show before. It’s a great place to meet current and future customers and see what is happening the marketing. We talk about packaging and shipping to Asia with clients.”
Donahue says the last season was challenging, while they hope for better conditions this year. “The last year was definitely challenging, the whole market saw that from shipping to weather issues. The growth in Korea and then the new retail possibilities, a lot of people are going direct so that has been more exciting. The majority of our exports comes to Asia, we have about 8 million pounds annually, with about 2 million pounds of that going to export with 75% of that coming to Asia.”
Aiming to ship more fruit to Asia
“Our main approach now is to meet in person with as many retailers as possible and then through our network we aim to export and ship more. We only export Ambrosia apples and they all go to Vietnam. There’s a lot of countries that don’t accept Canadian apples but for cherries we’re able to ship just about everywhere. Our months for exporting cherries are July and August and then we can send them into the first part of September. Apples start around the middle of October and we can send those all the way to February.”
Earlier start to Canada’s apples harvest season
“Here in Asia we have been trying to set up our apples sales programs right now for the upcoming season. It is looking like it is going to be about 10 days earlier, everybody’s is excited. The colour of our fruit is looking good compared to last year when it was not so dark as we wanted. It was such a crazy season with the wild fires. Thankfully it did not really affect much of what we do, but it was an added obstacle we did not need,” concludes Donahue.