Kelowna, B.C. – A government of Canada investment in a storage facility will help tree fruit growers see savings and help drive the economy.
The federal government and the government of British Columbia have invested almost $2.7 million to modernize the Okanagan Tree Fruit Cooperative’s storage facility in Lake Country.
Federal and provincial government officials made the announcement at the 123rd Annual General Meeting of the British Columbia Fruit Grower’s Association.
The federal government says creating jobs and facilitating economic growth are top priorities. This recent investment, it says, means “hardworking tree fruit growers will have the tools they need to modernize their packing house, increase efficiencies, lower costs and grow their businesses.”
The investment, which is from the Tree Fruit Market and Infrastructure Initiative, will help the Okanagan Tree Fruit Cooperative (OTFC) modernize packinghouse controlled atmosphere storage facilities and enhance returns to growers. The investment is expected to reduce operating costs by $340,000 annually.
The OTFC was created in July 2008 through the amalgamation of four tree fruit packinghouses. It is the largest packinghouse operation in the Okanagan Valley and in Canada. It is a grower-owned cooperative with more than 700 members combining their talents to grow, pack and ship more than 3.5 million boxes of fruit each year.
Gary Schieck, CEO of the OTFC, says the cooperative is grateful for the funding, which he says will benefit the entire industry in B.C.
“These dollars will allow us to leverage new technology in improving our controlled atmosphere storages at our Lake Country plant using a more environmentally friendly, lower-cost refrigeration process that will enhance fruit quality and yield to the market place, ultimately leading to increased returns to our growers,” says Schieck. “This improvement is part of a facility consolidation and technological shift our organization is undertaking.”