We recently sat down with Sutherland S.A. Produce as they prepared to embark on their 2019 export initiative. Thanks to Market Development funding under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial agreement, the Kelowna grower and packer is gearing up to promote BC cherries, blueberries and apples during a series of US and Asian trade missions this fall. Included in their ambitious itinerary are Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and potentially Japan (which opened its doors to BC cherries for the first time in 2018).
Aiming to familiarize itself with each market’s specific needs and capabilities, Sutherland will meet directly with various supermarket buyers and online retailers, making sure to inspect their potential client’s facilities.
“These visits are crucial for allowing us to assess the retail outlets firsthand and ensure that potential clients have proper cold-chain facilities and other logistics in place,” director of sales Rick Chong explains. “Ultimately, we need to be confident that the fruit we export will have a reasonable shelf-life and the Canadian brand will be maintained.”
Project funding will also enable Sutherland to attend Asia Fruit Logistica (AFL) in Hong Kong in September and the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit in California in October, both crucial tradeshows for their target markets.
AFL alone attracts over 50,000 visitors from all over Asia and the Middle East, offering Sutherland a venue to meet prospective new customers while strengthening relationships with existing clients.
Having completed previous export initiatives through IAF-delivered programs, Sutherland knows how critical funding support is for activities that can be prohibitively expensive for many companies.
“The funding we have received from the governments of Canada and BC has been an immense contribution to our business development in export markets – we could not afford to attend these shows without some financial assistance,” says Chong, adding that Sutherland’s annual sales have risen by at least 30 percent due to tradeshow participation and has allowed them to hire more staff.
The Sutherland team is equally optimistic for their newest project, both for themselves and for the approximately 200 BC growers they represent who stand to benefit from increased export opportunities.
Stay tuned to learn more about Sutherland’s latest expedition, we’ll catch up with them again this coming fall!
Funding: $50,000 from the Governments of Canada and British Columbia through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. (MD019)