British Columbia’s farm fresh blueberries are known as small wonders and now they are being welcomed into a very big export market.
On Sunday, Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick was at Langley’s Blueridge Produce farm on 240 Street to announce that B.C.’s blueberry exports have been approved to go to Asia.
This is the first full season that B.C. blueberries are being shipped to China.
Letnick visited Blueridge Produce as workers were busy packaging fresh blueberries for the journey to China.
Last summer, a small amount of fresh blueberries were sent to China to ensure that the packing-and-shipping process met all the requirements in the agreement between the governments of Canada and China.
The test run was a success.
Now British Columbia will increase the amount of fresh blueberry shipments to China this season. Blueberry growers could be looking at the potential of up to $65 million in exports a year, once the agreement is fully implemented.
“This event marks a very exciting time for the B.C. blueberry industry and represents the culmination of years of hard work,” said Rhonda Driediger, of Driediger berry farm.
“We are very proud to be one of the first B.C. companies to be approved for exporting fresh blueberries to China.
“We are looking forward to developing long-term relationships and to increase demand by the Chinese consumer for B.C.’s exceptional quality blueberries.”
British Columbia is one of the largest highbush blueberry-growing regions in the world, producing about 96 per cent of the Canadian production of cultivated blueberries.
In 2015, B.C. farmers harvested about 70,000 tonnes of blueberries, an increase of seven per cent.
Exports of B.C.’s blueberries accounted for $218 million, up more than 29 per cent from 2014.
The B.C. government is focused on increasing agrifoods exports to other countries and building the overall B.C. agrifoods sector to a $15-billion-a-year industry by 2020.
• About 95 per cent of B.C.’s berry production occurs in the Lower Mainland and the southwest region of the province.
• One large handful (250 millilitres) of farm fresh and juicy B.C. blueberries is just 80 calories and contains 3.6 grams of dietary fibre.
• Blueberries are ranked number one in antioxidant health benefits in a comparison with more than 40 fresh fruits and vegetables.