ARLINGTON – An ambitious plan to make Prince Edward Island apples a major player on the international market is a positive move for the industry, says Arlington orchardist Barry Balsom.
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Joshua Phillips, 5, and Noah Phillips, 8, munch on some apples at the Island Scarecrow Festival Sunday at Arlington Orchards.
"It's an opportunity for Island apple growers," Balsom said. "When you get a private development, which is a multi-million dollar development for accessing the world market for exports, that's an opportunity for Island apple growers to participate in.
Nobody's going to come to this province and plunk down that kind of money to that kind of apple production without having markets."
Canadian Nectar Products (CNP) is planning to produce one billion plus pieces of fruit annually for the European and Asian markets in the next few years.
The privately owned company, working with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick growers as well, intends to produce the high volumes of fruit for the 500 million population market in Europe and Asia.
"We have been assisting (CNP) in every way we can here at Arlington Orchards to make sure they make the best decisions they can based on the knowledge that we have, so they can expand production in Prince Edward Island for the export market," Balsom said.
"It's finally opened up a lot of people's eyes, certainly in government circles, that the apple industry is not only viable it's actually desirable," he said.
"The thing that makes me excited is it's private money, not government money.
"I'm tickled pink that the old tobacco growing area may be rejuvenated. I can remember when that was a booming place and that was years ago," he said.
"If that happens again and I had a small part to play in it, then I'm very proud."
Company representatives visited Arlington Orchards to study its honey crisp apple production.
"They were just blown away at the quality and the yield," Balsom said.
"We have a world-class product here on Prince Edward Island. Now we have a world-class company and I foresee good things happening in the apple industry."
Balsom said he anticipates Arlington Orchards will be taking part in the international marketing plan in the future.
"We are certainly expanding our production now and with the expansion of our production that gives us an opportunity to work with that company," he said.
CNP has some high profile partners. Former Liberal MP Sheila Copps and Conservative MP Gurmant Grewell of B.C.
Canadian Nectar Products has purchased the farm of Julius and Jolie Patkai near Murray River to create its first orchard.
Combined with apples from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia the company estimates the P.E.I. crop would be worth about $40 million a year to the Maritime region and create hundreds of job in picking, packing and shipping.