Plans are well underway for members of the British Columbia Blueberry Council heading to Dubai to exhibit at the Gulfood food and beverage trade show for the fourth time. The show runs from February 26 – March 2.
"In 2016, British Columbia's 800 blueberry growers produced 77 million kilograms of blueberries," said Debbie Etsell, executive director of the BC Blueberry Council. "Canadians consume around half of those berries, but with such strong production, we're able to export blueberries in many different formats to international markets around the globe. Blueberries are Canada's most exported fruit, and we're looking forward to sharing Canada's 150th anniversary celebrations by bringing BC blueberries to more markets around the globe."
The show attracts 95,000 trade-only visitors from 120 different countries, with more than 5,000 companies represented over the five-day event. Along with offering an excellent opportunity to connect with buyers from the Gulf Region, the show also attracts trade from India and South East Asia, two other emerging markets for B.C.-grown blueberries. At the booth, BC Blueberry Council representatives will be offering samples of frozen blueberries.
"Buyers are genuinely shocked when they try our blueberries and we tell them there's no added sugar," says Etsell. "They're just naturally very sweet!"
Before the BCBC first attended Gulfood in 2013, the Middle East was largely an unknown market for Canada's highbush blueberry producers. Exhibiting at the show allowed the organization to measure interest in blueberries and blueberry products, and get started on building relationships within the Gulf Region. As a result, British Columbia now has some export-ready packers and processors working with agents based in Dubai.
"We're looking forward to seeing some of the familiar faces from past shows, as well as building some new relationships and connecting them with suppliers that can fulfil their requests, whether they're looking for blueberries in fresh, frozen, dried, powdered, juice or puréed formats."
The BC Blueberry Council works closely with government trade offices at both a provincial and federal level, making the most of opportunities to take part in trade missions, delegations and shows such as Gulfood. Other international missions planned for 2017 include FoodEx in Japan and Seoul Food & Hotel in Korea.
Source: BC Blueberry Council news release