Agri-foods sector expands

A B.C. delegation has returned home from what it’s calling a successful trade mission to China.

A B.C. delegation has returned home from what it’s calling a successful trade mission to China.

The tour included several deals that could increase B.C.’s agri-food exports by about $100 million within a few years.

“The trade mission provided us with an important opportunity to meet directly with Chinese officials and reinforce B.C.’s stellar reputation of producing high quality and trusted foods,” said Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick.

“It was a successful tour and B.C. looks forward to building on the momentum from our visit to China and continuing to increase on our already record-setting exports.”

Led by federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, industry and government leaders from across Canada met with senior Chinese officials in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai.

The highlights of the trade mission included an agreement between the governments of Canada and China that will lead to full, unimpeded access for fresh B.C. cherries into China.

In 2013, B.C. shipped $3.9 million worth of fresh cherries to China for the first time. With the new agreement, B.C. cherry growers estimate up to $20 million dollars in new revenue annually in the next few years.

“We were very pleased to get a formal agreement signed for cherry exports, but the mission also provided great opportunities for promotion, learning the trends of China’s markets, and developing good trade contacts for our producers,” said Christine Dendy, B.C. Cherry Council representative.

Letnick says the trade mission built on the already successful partnerships across the agri-foods sector including pork, beef and value-added products such as syrups, concentrates, sauces, seasonings and dessert fillings.

China is the second-largest export market for B.C. agri-foods.

In 2013, exports to China increased to $234 million, almost double that of 2010.