Cherry picking the best
November 6, 2012 By David Manly
Nov. 6, 2012 – Recently, the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters British Columbia (CME BC) and the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training announced the 27 finalists for the 30th annual BC Export Awards. These awards recognize companies and individuals that demonstrate an outstanding commitment and innovation to the BC export industry.
One of the companies selected under the “Consumer Products” category was Jealous Fruits (www.jealousfruits.com), a worldwide exporter of premium fresh cherries to Hong Kong, Taiwan, other Asian markets, Europe and the U.K.
David Geen, the owner of Jealous Fruits, has focused on the export industry since the company’s inception in the early 1990’s. Since then, Jealous Fruits has grown into the largest single-grower cherry producer in Canada, with 300 acres in full production and 75 more planted last spring. The expansion is planned to continue into 2014, with a total of 550 acres.
The company grows 12 varieties of cherries, which include the mid-season ripening varieties Satin and Van, late season production varieties Lapin and Sweetheart, and very late season varieties Regina, Staccato, Sovereign and Sentennial. Other varieties include Sylvia and Sonata.
Geen says that Jealous Fruits was selected as a finalist for the BC Export Awards because of its strong sales, record growth and a strong reputation within the industry as a vertically integrated cherry producer.
“We have complete control over our cherries, handling only our own product and every facet of production from blossom to the box,” he adds. “We have a singular focus on quality that our customers value.”
Jealous Fruits focuses on the late-season market period (between the months of August to September) and annually provides over $8 million to the Canadian economy, as well as supporting a full-time staff of 20 to 25 employees, and a seasonal employment of over 500 people.
However, developing a business based solely on the export of Canadian cherries has not been easy. According to Geene, the largest complications arise from strong competition from the United States and the unexpected changes in Canadian weather.
“We seek to manage weather risk through varietal and geographic diversification,” he says. “To counter the competitive threat from American cherry production, we focus our efforts on customers willing to pay a premium for the high quality cherry we grow. As it happens, many of these quality driven/ non price- sensitive customers are offshore, which drives our sales program.”
According to Geene, the next step for the company is to increase their acreage, double their production capacity and expand their marketing season within the next five to seven years.
For more information on the BC Export Awards and the other finalists, please visit www.bcexportawards.com.
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