Luxury Chinese markets getting ready to stock Okanagan cherries

An agreement signed between Canada and China is a step closer to getting B.C. cherries into the Chinese marketplace.

The Canadian government is planning to export Okanagan cherries to China.

The Canadian government is planning to export Okanagan cherries to China.

Okanagan cherries will soon be on the shelves of luxury food markets in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, as the Canadian government seeks access to the Chinese marketplace.

An agreement signed between the governments of Canada and China today commits the two countries to work on a number of specific Canadian foods, including cherries.

British Columbia produced 94 per cent of Canada’s sweet cherries in 2010.

B.C. exported about $29-million worth of cherries in 2010, with over $7.5 million to Taiwan and $5 million to Hong Kong.

“We are very pleased to see this progress on access to China for B.C. cherries. A final agreement has the potential to immediately garner $10 million or more in cherry sales to China,” said Christine Dendy from the Okanagan-Kootenay Cherry Growers Association in a news release.

Canada’s first dedicated cargo flights to mainland China from Vancouver to Shanghai began in July 2011.

The three-times-per-week flights usually deliver B.C. seafood, but could carry cherries.

B.C. has set record exports of agrifood products to China in the last three years, with exports topping $100 million for the first time ever in 2010.