May 8, 2019
by PETER MITHAM
BC Tree Fruits Co-operative found a new executive team, and soon it will have a new home.
The co-op announced this week that it expects to close on the purchase of 85 acres in the Ellison area of Kelowna by the end of May. The transaction will occur in tandem with the sale of its property in Penticton.
“This purchase signals our commitment to the industry, our growers, our staff and the valley, and will give us the ability to compete on a global scale moving forward,” said co-op CEO Todd McMyn in a statement.
McMyn was appointed CEO at the beginning of April, an appointment announced alongside that of new CFO Ross Dwhytie. The two senior positions had been vacant since November.
During the search for new executives, co-op president Jeet Dukhia told Country Life in BC that a number of restructuring initiatives were underway in order to secure money for an automated plant in the north Okanagan. The reorganization, Dukhia added, could include the purchase of a new property on Kelowna’s outskirts. A decision was expected by this summer.
“We should be on the outskirts of the city where land is cheap,” he said at the time. “We are looking to the next 50 years.”
This month’s land purchase at 3330 Old Vernon Road should fit the bill.
“[It] will see a consolidation of all of the cooperative’s northern facilities,” the co-op says. “[It] will house state-of-the-art apple, cherry, pear and soft fruit packing line(s) as well as office space and the cider operations and a ‘destination’ cidery.”
A timeline for the project hasn’t been set. Government approvals for construction have yet to be obtained for the site, which may require an exclusion from the Agricultural Land Reserve. A co-op representative was not immediately available to confirm this, but the purchase announcement said the co-op “will be working closely with all levels of government” to make the facility a reality.
Cost is also a factor. A competitiveness study last year said government funding could be difficult to secure. Six years ago, renewal of co-op facilities was estimated at $40 million. Construction cost increases in the intervening years will likely make the cost of the current project much higher.
With annual sales of close to $130 million, the grower-owned co-op has been diversifying its business in recent years. While it has long supplied inputs to orchardists through its subsidiary, Growers Supply Co., it also produces Broken Ladder hard cider. Most recently, in April, it launched a new line of fruit-based alcoholic beverages under the M.O. Fruitsecco brand. [BC Tree Fruits image]
Vol. 105 Issue 5
STORIES IN THIS EDITION
What on earth?
Opposition slams ALC bill
Sidebar: Protection & pushback
Editorial: Truth in labelling
Back Forty: So you don’t believe in climate change
Viewpoint: Don’t blame the cows for global warming
Ag council’s lobbying efforts produce results
Learning a new skill
Foundation’s nest egg for funding projects increases
Province will hold the line on piece rates
New CEO aims to kindle team spirit at co-op
FIRB decision prompts rethink of pricing scheme
Beekeepers see potential in technology transfer
AgSafe markes quarter century
Raspberries hit hard by harsh February
Blueberry growers anxious for new varieties
Biological controls for pests in demand
Sidebar: Pesticides in play
Growers urged to focus on fresh
Westgen celebrates 75 years of excellence
Top seller was no-show at Holstein sale
Spring show attracts exhibitors from Quebec
Cheesemakers unite to grow niche market
Range use permits under greater scrutiny
Sidebar: Range use plans go digital
Market Musings: Top bulls sell for top dollar at spring sales
Grapegrowers share sustainability objectives
Grape specialist honoured for dedication
Hazelnut production expands across BC
Sidebar: Pest pressures
Supporters take to AITC’s Sips & Sprouts
Research: Cultured meat fails to impress researchers
UAVs undergo testing for pesticide delivery
Sustainability goes beyond saving farmland
Father and daughter roll with the last of the steel wheels
Woodshed: Susan Henderson is warming to country life
Wannabe: Farming is more than just a job
Surplus, cull fruit finds new purpose as tasty snacks
Jude’s Kitchen: Special food for special moms