Cheap apple sales brisk at Market

Apple sales were brisk and the line-ups were long in front of the B.C. Fruit Grower's Association booth on opening day at the Kelowna Farmers and Crafters Market Saturday.

BCFGA board member Fred Steele was darting up and down the line-up for cheap Grade A apples as the line was a hundred people long at any given time.

"We had people lining up at 20 minutes to eight," says Steele, who handed out information pamphlets to those huddling in line.

The BCFGA was selling apples at only 12 cents a pound, and deal-hungry people were filling their own cloth bags with several varieties of apples.

Shortly after 9 a.m., the first run of apples were nearly gone and the association was waiting for another truckload. Steele estimated the apples would be completely sold out by 10:30 a.m.

"Already, we've seen as many people as we thought we'd see all day, and it's, what, only been an hour," says Steele.

Steele and the association were selling the apples to illustrate a point - last season, the growers received, on average, 12 cents a pound for their apples, while production costs were about 22 cents a pound.

Steele says the reasons for this are many, including stores importing subsidized apples from Washington, a high Canadian dollar and a lack of a secured marketing system for tree fruit growers similar to the one used by poultry and dairy farmers in Canada.

"When was the last time you heard a dairy farmer complain? Or poultry or eggs? Never. That's because they have a supply management system," says Steele. "They supply the Canadian market, and that's what I would like to see for tree fruit growers."

Steele says while a secured marketing system wouldn't be perfect, it would at least help growers manage market fluctuations.

"It's mediocre or famine (right now). It's never feasting."

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