Volumes of sweet cherries from Western Canada are expected to be twice the amount of the 2013 crop, which will help some growers and shippers in British Columbia send their fruit to U.S. produce aisles for the first time.
Sutherland S.A. Produce and BC Tree Fruits are ramping up their export program with the expected 7.5 million-pound bumper crop, planning to allocate 25% to 30% of this year’s cherries to their export markets, according to a news release.
“Demand in export markets such as China is spiking for BC Tree Fruit cherries,” said Sutherland president Clive Sutherland in the release.
The British Columbia companies also plan to use the increased volume to enter the U.S. market.
To help with that effort, BC Tree Fruits is installing a dedicated cherry line in its packinghouse in Kelowna, British Columbia, according to the release. Company officials expect to run the line 16 hours a day, processing five tons of cherries per hour.
“With the new export cherry line and increased capacity, BCTF together with Sutherland S.A. Produce looks to expand into the U.S. supermarkets this season, offering export quality cherries previously solely allocated to Asian markets,” BC Tree Fruit sales director Lance McGinn said in the release.
The cooperative effort between BC Tree Fruits and Sutherland follows a pilot program in 2013. The pilot was so successful that the companies extended the partnership for three years to manage the export of the BC Tree Fruits cherry crop through to the 2016 season.
A social media marketing campaign should help boost sales and promote retailers’ efforts, according to the release. The campaign will focus on educating consumers about the length of cherry season and will include nutrition information and recipes.
More than 500 local growers own the BC Tree Fruits Cooperative, which is the parent entity of BC Tree Fruits Industries Ltd.