KELOWNA, BC - As local tree fruit growers finish winter pruning their trees, the Board of Directors and management of BC Tree Fruits Cooperative are putting in place multiple changes to the organization, turning over a new leaf and setting the Cooperative on a new path to modernize its business model.

Rooted in the Okanagan Valley since 1936, BC Tree Fruits Cooperative represents 350 grower families and 600 regular and seasonal employees. BC Tree Fruits remains the largest tree fruits packing house in Western Canada. Significant changes have been made to modernize the way the Cooperative works, including how the business is governed by its Board and membership. “The transition into the new approach to governance at BC Tree Fruits will allow the Board and Management to continue to implement the required changes to deliver sustainable increases in returns for tree fruit growers. We would like to thank the BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries for its leadership and support for the entire tree fruits industry in British Columbia and for its support of the Cooperative’s efforts to improve our governance and operations”, says Warren Sarafinchan, CEO of BC Tree Fruits Cooperative. 

“In the last 18 months we have taken significant steps to turn over a new leaf. We have accelerated the process of right sizing the Cooperative assets by selling under-utilized properties, we have made capital investments in equipment to improve efficiencies, and we are relentless in our pursuit to reduce costs. In addition to changing the way we run the business, we are changing the way we interact with our grower base. As I joined the Cooperative, it was evident there was an opportunity to improve the trust between our growers, the Board of Directors and management. We have committed to improved communication and transparency across all groups and continue to develop new and better tools to keep everyone informed of happenings around the Cooperative.” 

The fruit industry in the Okanagan Valley is plagued with low grower returns – not enough money is getting back to the growers for their fruit. “As an industry, ultimately we need to improve grower profitability. If we don’t, there simply won’t be local fruit to buy in the future”, says Sarafinchan. 

“We believe we have delivered very competitive summer fruit grower pricing for the 2020 crop and our first installment of apple payments back to the growers saw a significant increase over last year. That said, the Cooperative must continue to work with growers and industry stakeholders to increase returns over the cost of production to ensure our growers have sustainable businesses into the future”, says Sarafinchan. “We have introduced a program assuring better income for high quality fruit, we are bringing back our in-field horticultural support program to advise growers on their farms and we are actively working on a network consolidation plan to drive efficiencies and take advantage of technologies that will ensure success well into the future.” 

”Our growers have asked for flexibility in our apple and pear contract structure and in a cooperative spirit, we are launching both a one year and a multi-year contract option to address that concern.”

BC Tree Fruits is a staple of local, western Canadian produce. As the Cooperative supports our dedicated growers, we remind consumers that there has never been a better time to support local producers on your grocery shelves.

A well-recognized brand with a long history, local growers and consumers alike can be assured that this new leaf is fruitful.