More B.C. cherries headed to South Korean market

File photo. Global News

More B.C. cherries will soon start appearing in South Korean markets, courtesy of the ongoing free trade deal between the two countries.

Getting B.C.’s crop of cherries better positioned in the trade deal has been in the works for years, according to the press release from the federal government.

Under the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement, in force since 2015, tariffs on Canadian cherries have dropped from 24 per cent to 4.8 per cent, with full elimination set for 2024.

Read more: Okanagan rain delaying cherry harvest, farmers say

“Increased exports into South Korea have been part of British Columbia’s long-term strategy to grow international markets for cherries, while securing the best price,” according to a government press release.

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In 2021, South Korea imported over $208 million of fresh cherries from around the world.

“British Columbia’s cherry industry produces 95 per cent of Canada’s sweet cherries and has an opportunity to grow even more thanks in part to the premium new cherry varieties bred at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Research Centre in Summerland, B.C.”

Click to play video: 'Increased Okanagan rain delaying cherry harvest'
Increased Okanagan rain delaying cherry harvest

With the recent expansion in acreage and production volume, along with global demand, sweet cherries have now become Canada’s second largest exported fruit crop behind blueberries.

B.C. also has the latest growing cherry crop, with some varieties only being ready to go to market by August and September.  That offers a competitive advantage over all other North American markets that traditionally harvest cherries earlier in the season.

“The B.C. Cherry Association is extremely pleased that efforts from government and industry have secured access to the South Korean market for Canadian cherries,” Sukhpaul Bal, president, British Columbia Cherry Association.

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“Our growers and industry partners look forward to building long-lasting relationships with Korean customers and cannot wait to see cherries branded with the maple leaf in stores across South Korea.”

Canada’s exports of sweet cherries continue to grow each year, reaching $78 million in 2021.  In agricultural trade, South Korea was the sixth-largest export destination for Canadian agri-food and seafood products in 2021.

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