Canada has announced an agreement with China that will see its British Columbian (BC) blueberries gain access to a projected US$65m market for the industry.
Chinese quarantine inspectors will head to Canada to inspect pre-shipment conditions in coming months, before authorising the first shipments of BC blueberries to China.
The Canadian minister of agriculture Gerry Ritz and minster of international trade Ed Fast announced the deal on 24 June –welcome news for the BC blueberry industry, which has more than doubled is production in the past decade.
"We were extremely pleased to be in China on the momentous occasion of the protocol signing between Canada and China on fresh blueberry exports," Debbie Etsell, executive director of the BC Blueberry Council said. “This comes at a time when the demand for fresh Canadian blueberries in China is very high due to the health benefits and quality of our product. We look forward to providing the Chinese consumer with a beneficial Canadian agri-food."
Strong season ahead
Access to China has come at an opportune time for the industry, with the BC blueberry season kicking off on 20 June – one of the earliest starts to the season.
“Thanks to warms days and good pollination weather, everyone can expect to enjoy a steady supply of blueberries throughout the season,” Etsell said in a company statement.
The 2015 crop is forecast to be similar to last year’s at 68,000 tonnes of the highbush variety, available from June through October.