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BC Tree Fruits to close Lake Country plant, invest in Oliver

The cooperative will not be building in Kelowna
(Brennan Phillips / Penticton Western News)

The BC Tree Fruits packing house in the Kelowna, Lake Country area will be closing this fall.

With that closure, the BC Tree Fruits Cooperative has decided to invest in the Oliver facility which will include state-of-the-art technology.

The cooperative will not go ahead with a 2019 plan to create a Kelowna facility which was to have state-of-the-art packing lines, a cidery and more.

The BC Tree Fruits Cooperative (BCTFC) purchased 85 acres of land on Old Vernon Road that was to be used to consolidate all of their northern facilities. At the time the consolidation was part of its “One Roof” plan, according to BCTFC.

Andre Scheepers, chair of the board of directors said, the cooperative is envisioning many options for the Kelowna location that would help diversify the business as well as benefit growers.

“BC Tree Fruits Cooperative will continue to have roots in Kelowna well into the future.”

This decision to close the Lake Country plant and invest in Oliver came as the cooperative needed to take strategic steps to ensure the future of BC Tree Fruits.

According to Scheepers, it will continue to serve growers across the Okanagan, Similkameen and Creston areas through the expanded Oliver packing facility along with satellite receiving and storage sites throughout the valleys.

He said, until recently, management and the board collectively believed that a new build in Kelowna was the best course of action.

“However, the sharp rise in construction costs and interest rates along with changes in the industry made the plan for a new build far too risky,” he said. “The board of directors and management are confident that the expansion of our Oliver packing facility will give us the capacity and efficiencies needed to service our customers while delivering solid income back to our growers.”

Scheepers added that modernizing the Oliver facility it would allow for the re-investment of funds in growers and diversification.

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Jen Zielinski

About the Author: Jen Zielinski

Graduated from the broadcast journalism program at BCIT. Also holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science and sociology from Thompson Rivers University.
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