BC Tree Fruits branching out

Plans are in the works to bring a sweet new stream of revenue to Okanagan fruit growers

Plans are in the works to bring a sweet new stream of revenue to Okanagan fruit growers.

BC Tree Fruits is in the preliminary stages of creating a cidery business, which, if all goes well, would be built into their Vaughn Avenue store.

“We’ve partnered with the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre to do some research in terms of testing different varieties to come up with a premium blend for the different apple varieties,” said Chris Pollock, the marketing manager for BC Tree Fruits.

“We want to come up with the ideal taste profile for a premium cider product.”

The ideal blend, Pollock explained, would be comprised of 100 per cent of BC grown apples, which “we have the luxury of having in our back-yard.”

“We have communicated with our growers that this is something we are investigating as a new revenue stream,” he said.

“We’re trying to diversify the channels our members’ fruit moves to. There’s a market for it and it’s our responsibility to maximize returns for our growers.”

Pollock reiterated that plans for the cidery have yet to be finalized, and the project is just in the research stage, which includes sussing out demand in the market.

“It’s something we’ve noticed in the industry—there are a lot of ciders coming into the market. Not just in B.C., but in Washington and Ontario,” he said.

“The trend shows that it is an industry that’s in growth, which is promising in that regard. If we can make it feasible, from a production standpoint, and all the stars align it’s something we will  move forward with quickly.”

“Quickly” would be somewhere in the next one to two years.

Apple grower Fred Steele recently took over the helm of the BC Tree Fruit Growers Association, and said that any news of a value-added stream of revenue is welcome.

“It’s a great idea. We don’t know what the future holds, but it’s better to have more than one iron in the fire with value added products,” he said.