Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

Features Production Research
P.E.I. organic growers


March 12, 2008
By Kathy Birt

Topics

Business continues to grow for a group of Prince Edward Island organic fruit growers and an Island-based jam producer.

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Springfield, P.E.I., farmer Raymond Loo (left) and Kosaku Morita with Viva Co., Ltd of Japan pose next to one of about 11,000 black currant seedlings planted in the past two seasons in P.E.I. The pair is involved in a business deal exporting organic fruit jams into the Japanese market. Photo by Kathy Birt
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 Springfield, P.E.I., farmer Raymond Loo (right), Kosaku Morita with Viva Co., Ltd of Japan, and Bruce McNaughton, owner of the P.E.I. Preserve Company, take time to sample their organic fruit jam spread. The men are involved in a business deal exporting organic fruit jams into the Japanese market. Photo by Kathy Birt

Business continues to grow for a group of Prince Edward Island organic fruit growers and an Island-based jam producer.

Last year, Springfield, P.E.I., farmer Raymond Loo and Bruce McNaughton, owner of the P.E.I. Preserve Company, entered into an agreement with Kosaku Morita of Showa Trading Company to produce and market jams in the Japanese market. That contract has recently been expanded with Viva Co., Ltd. to include a dozen other organic growers and 50,000 jars of jam.

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“I think the opportunity is very, very large,” says McNaughton, who ramped up his company’s production in mid-July to meet the needs of the Japanese contract.

He is hopeful P.E.I. producers can build on the success of this project to expand and add value in other fruit production areas. “We have to get the word out that we can grow northern fruit organically and look at all the spin offs.

“Other than just the fruit itself and the preserve making, we can get juices and do sugar infused. There’s lots of opportunity,” he says.

Under the expanded contract, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, black-berries and raspberries have been added to the jam repertoire, joining the original black currant product. Currently, there are 3,000 jars of jam
being test marketed in Osaka, Japan.

To meet the rising demand for black currant products, Loo and other organic fruit producers on the Island have been busy preparing and expanding plantings.

“We put 1,000 black currant plants in the ground in 2006, and we ordered 10,000 this year and 20,000 for 2008,” says Loo. A total of $60,000 has been invested in the tiny black berries.

Morita foresees a very profitable outcome for all involved in the project. “The black currant jam is the most popular,” he says, adding a 250-ml jar sells for $18 in Japan. This popularity is due to the high levels of antioxidants in the currants – double that of blueberries.

Loo and McNaughton attended the FoodEx in Tokyo back in March, a
followup to their 2006 visit. The pair set up in the Japanese Pavilion, offering expo visitors a taste test of the jams with crackers.

“There were 100 bottles of jam sampled with 4,800 crackers,” recalls Loo.