Rising exports of BC agri-food products are set for a further boost with the launch of the new BC Agriculture and Food Export Program.
BC Statistics reports that exports of agriculture and food products other than fish totalled $4.6 billion last year, a 24% increase from 2021. The gains were broad-based, with the largest gain recorded by breads and other processed cereal products, up 34% to $577 million. Fruit and nut exports also increased significantly, rising 27% to $598 million.
Meat products alone saw a decline, with their value falling 8% to $159 million.
But a new program launched August 28 with funding under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (SCAP) promises to assist with market development beyond BC’s borders.
The cost-shared BC Agriculture and Food Export Program is administered by accounting firm MNP LLP and covers 50% of the cost of projects initiated by producers, processors and co-operatives up to $50,000 a year, and 70% of the cost of projects undertaken by industry associations up to $75,000 a year.
Eligible activities include participation in interprovincial/international tradeshows, food fairs, and sales exhibitions to connect with commercial buyers; consumer-focused promotional activities in export markets; and the development and delivery of export-focused marketing materials.
The initial application deadline is September 15, with all projects required to complete by March 31, 2024.
Program materials indicate that the project aims to increase international exports and purchases of BC products and reduce market risk as a result of market diversification.
The project is one of the first launched as part of the new five-year funding framework, which succeeded the Canadian Agricultural Partnership on April 1, 2023.
A similar program under the previous framework, the BC Agrifood and Seafood Export Program, was funded to the tune of $5 million. BC exports increased by a third during its run, with agricultural exports seeing the largest benefit with 50% increase between 2018 and 2022.