More revenue for more growers is how BC Tree Fruits Cooperative is framing the launch of a three-year program that will guarantee growers a minimum return on their apples.
“The Cooperative is expanding on a program launched in 2020 by providing minimum payment guarantees to growers on a wide range of varieties, grades, and sizes of apples for the next three years,” a statement announcing the program said.
Billed the “Apple Income Assurance Program,” the program will guarantee all growers for the co-op a minimum price if they meet the sizing and grade requirements for key varieties.
Should the market deliver a better return on the fruit than the minimum, growers will receive “a significant share,” according to Co-op CEO Warren Sarafinchan.
Originally piloted with the 2020 crop, the program delivered significant benefits to growers last year. While the pilot was limited to growers with three-year contracts and fewer varieties, participants received initial payments last year that were 60% above their final payment the previous year.
Now, given the co-op’s stronger financial position after two years of working to improve sales and reduce costs, Sarafinchan says the co-op is able to commit to guaranteed returns for growers having proven that its strategy works.
“Given the strengthened financial position, and given the challenges growers re facing with higher input costs, increasing inflation, labour shortages and so on, this is a time the co-op believes it needs to stand side-by-side with growers and support them,” Sarafinchan says.
Growers will in turn have the confidence to invest in their operations, knowing that the co-op is able to secure greater returns for them in the marketplace.
Sarafinchan said the initiative is unprecedented in the industry and complements the work of the province’s tree fruit stabilization initiative in supporting the long-term health of the sector.