BC Tree Fruits Co-operative held its annual general meeting in Peachland on October 24, giving members a chance to meet and question the co-op’s new CEO.
Kelowna supply chain management specialist Warren Sarafinchan joined the co-op at the end of September after Todd McMyn was let go. McMynn had been in the role less than six months.
Sarafinchan brings three decades of experience to BC Tree. His previous work included serving as vice-president, sales, with Sun-Rype Foods Ltd., as well as senior roles with Maple Leaf Foods and Labatt Breweries.
Sarafinchan has served as a consultant to the industry, in particular on a governance study commissioned through the competitiveness fund the province established for the industry. This gives both him, and the BC Fruit Growers Association, a level of mutual comfort. BCFGA general manager Glen Lucas notes that Sarafinchan called him immediately to arrange a meeting.
The responsive, collaborative attitude is especially promising given that Sarafinchan is the co-op’s fourth CEO appointed since the departure of Alan Tyabji in 2012.
With the co-op aiming to streamline and consolidate its operations and improve returns to growers, Sarafinchan says unity is key.
“We’re going to do our best to give them the answers that they need,” he said. “It’s important for everyone to come together and work through the challenges.”
The co-op has sales of annual sales of approximately $130 million, derived from sales of fruit, cider and grower supplies. Its annual meeting was closed to media.
However, those who attended said questions underscored a high level of grower engagement in what Sarafinchan described before the meeting as “a challenging time.”
This year saw an average-size apple crop that was tough to colour up thanks to cloudy skies in September. Cherry volumes were down by more than 20% thanks to rain. Apricots, a relatively small portion of the co-op’s volume, were also hit “extremely hard” by frost in February.