The Okanagan’s Chinese potential

Businesses in the Okanagan aren't taking advantage of the Chinese market

As Okanagan farmers are preparing to ship their cherries to luxury markets in China, other B.C. entrepreneurs should follow their lead.

China is the most populated country in the world with more than 1.3 billion people. One-in-five people – or around 20 per cent of the world’s population – lives in the booming country.

And the middle class is burgeoning. In fact, China’s middle class is already larger than the entire United States, according to Forbes.

British Columbians are used to marketing their products to the U.S. (It’s an easy market to tap into because the customers are very similar to those in Canada.)

But the potential in China is astronomical. According to Forbes, in 15 years their middle class will reach 800 million.

That’s nearly a billion potential customers who have a track record of buying Western products.

It’s about time the Okanagan started selling its cherries to China.

Right now Canada and China are working on an agreement that will get the fruit there. There is potential for other B.C.-grown food to follow the same course.

What about wine? The Okanagan has transformed from a little know wine-producing region to one that routinely wins major awards.

Surely China would be thirsty for Okanagan shiraz, chardonnay and pinot gris?

Take Princeton-based Foxy Lady Paydirt. The United States makes up most of its online business, but what about marketing its golden product to China? There are, after all, a lot more people there.

Products need to be marketed differently to Chinese consumers – something international companies like McDonalds know well. For instance, the fast-food restaurant offers seasonal Chinese New Year Meals.

A new McDonalds opens every other day in China, according to the Huffington Post. In four years, the company plans to open an outlet every single day.

That’s something for Okanagan-based businesses to think about. But think fast.