China’s ban on canola imports from two major Canadian suppliers -- and issuance of non-compliance notice against a third -- is causing uncertainty for producers, just weeks before planting is scheduled to begin. China has alleged contamination by “hazardous” but unspecified organisms.
China is also a growing export market for British Columbia cherry growers, worth almost $27 million (2018) and the province’s second largest after the U.S. Fresh cherry exports from B.C. to China have ballooned in the last five years, largely due to the signing of a phytosanitary arrangement between the two countries in 2014.
So what are the industry’s sentiments for the season ahead, given the current canola crisis?
Jealous Fruits, the province’s largest cherry grower, says they are cautiously optimistic that the canola situation will not impact cherries and other Canadian commodities.
B.C. Cherry Association president Sukhpaul Bal noted the bulk of their cherries are shipped as American growers are winding down. This makes B.C. cherries a unique commodity for several weeks, as well as being safe and delicious. He added that they’re working closely with their partners in China, and searching out new markets at the same time.
2019 will be the first time B.C. growers are able to ship fresh cherries to Japan, after many decades of effort by the association. According to industry experts, B.C. cherry exports to Japan could be worth up to $8 million annually.
Sources: AAFC, ‘Small fruits in China’ webpost
Business Financial Post April 4, 2019 webpost