B.C.’s Agrifoods reputation grows stronger in China
Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick and the B.C. delegation have returned home after completing a successful trade mission to China. The tour included several deals that could increase B.C.’s agrifood exports by about $100 million within a few years.
The trade mission featured a strong B.C. presence led by Letnick and representatives from the province’s blueberry, cherry and speciality meat industry. Led by Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, between June 13 and June 22, 2014, industry and government leaders from across Canada met with senior Chinese officials in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai.
The highlights of the ‘building markets for B.C. foods’ themed 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.
- Ongoing progress towards fresh B.C. blueberries being approved for sale in the Chinese market. It is estimated B.C. growers could be looking at up to $65 million worth of exports a year once the agreement is fully implemented.
- Minister Letnick attended the 20th annual World Meat Congress in Beijing.
- The trade mission built on the already successful partnerships across the agrifoods 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. agrifoods. In 2013, exports to China increased to $234 million, almost double that of 2010. Last year, British Columbia exported $2.7 billion of agrifoods to more than 140 countries, an increase of about $200 million from the year before.
Expanding international markets is a key commitment of government’s Agrifoods Strategy, a component of the BC Jobs Plan, to lead the agrifoods sector growth into a $14-billion-a-year industry by 2017.