Sheila Copps sees Prince Edward Island as apple capital of the world

Dave Stewart
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Premier Robert Ghiz welcomes former deputy prime minister Sheila Copps to the P.E.I. legislature on Thursday. Ghiz’s first job was working for Copps in Ottawa. The former MP is on P.E.I. this week to help a national company set up an apple orchard in eastern P.E.I.

The former deputy prime minister of Canada says she wants to make P.E.I. the apple capital of the world.

Sheila Copps, who served as a member of Parliament from 1984 to 2004, is in the province this week with officials from Canadian Nectar Products Inc. (CNPI).

CNPI has already purchased 155 acres of land in eastern P.E.I. and will begin planting on that land in about two weeks. No one is saying exactly where the orchard is yet.

The idea is to market P.E.I. apples to the world, especially Europe, where there is currently a shortage of apples.

Copps paid a visit to the P.E.I. legislature on Thursday where she observed question period from the public gallery with Amarjeet Singh Jatana, president of Canadian Nectar Products Inc., and Gurmant Grewal, vice-president of CNPI.

Grewal is a former member of Parliament himself in the Stephen Harper government.

“I’m here to make P.E.I. the apple capital of the world,’’ Copps told The Guardian.

She explained she knew Grewal from her days in Parliament. One day, he asked her what she knew about apples, which wasn’t much. But she was keen to learn and here she is.

“People are eating apples that have less sugar in them so it turns out they’ve examined all these different places and that P.E.I. has the best land to grow the new types of apples, which are cooler climates and less sugar,’’ she said.

Those varieties include honeycrisp, gala and ambrosia.

“(Jatana) has orchards in the (United) States, in British Columbia and they’ve zeroed in on P.E.I. because they really want to make a major apple production and packing facility here.’’

Jatana said it is also their intention to build a bioscience lab, perhaps at the BioCommons park in Charlottetown, and hire “lots of people’’.

“The tissue culture (research and development) will be here,’’ Jatana said, noting their orchard will not require deep-water wells or fertilizers and will not pollute the soil.

Jatana said they’ve also been in contact with 10 to 12 apple growers across P.E.I.

“There are already plenty of orchards on P.E.I. and we’ve been in touch with (the growers). They are very excited.’’

Jatana said they want to involve local growers in their production and help them grow more efficiently.

Grewal said the P.E.I. apples will be shipped to Europe.

“There is a very huge shortage of apples in the world. The apples will carry a P.E.I. sticker so everyone in the world will know very well where P.E.I. is,’’ Grewal said.

Copps said the European market is only seven hours away from P.E.I. and the Island’s proximity to Halifax’s deep water port is a huge advantage.

Jatana said they’ve already successfully launched Maritime variety scotia gold in the Asian market.

Copps said while apples packed in B.C. will last about 200 days, those that will be packed on P.E.I. can be packed and stored for at least 300 days.

“They have much more longevity because there is an issue with how (much better the P.E.I.) soil is,’’ she said.

No one from the provincial government was commenting on Thursday and there was no word as to whether any public money is involved but an official planting is expected to happen in about two weeks.

 

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart

Organizations: Canadian Nectar Products

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Europe, Canada Eastern P.E.I. British Columbia Charlottetown Halifax B.C.

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Recent comments

  • w kennedy
    May 11, 2014 - 02:45

    Remember those little best tasting ever when ripened on tree Red Astracans? We used to have other better than store Heritage types such as the Yellow Transparents. Even Russets are harder to find now it seems. Crab apples grow like weeds here.

  • patronage buddies
    May 10, 2014 - 06:32

    APPLE CAPITAL..your joking it would take PEI 100 years to even get close to the apple industry in Nova Scotia....Berwick NS has that label now and may have copyrighted it......Shiela COPPS is a paid lobbiest for CNPI...and is using Ghiz and her connections to push this endeavour.......if Shiela had a any knowledge of the industry...or of the the Agri business here in PEI she would/should not be promoting this Apple capital business..and Robert Ghiz and his handlers should know better than to support it..........They grow alot of potatoes in the annapolis valley also ...but they would not dare call them selves a potatoe capital...........Ghiz may have worked for COPPS before and may be needing her again down the road after his tenure is up ....to push the politial patronage button and find work for him again.......

  • PAY BACK TIME
    May 09, 2014 - 17:16

    We ALL know what this is,,,, the inevitable 'pay back' !!!!!! Apple capital of the WORLD, reminds me of the 'leading edge in wind farms' that PEI is known for worldwide. I guess politicians around here think no one has ever been off the Island and seen the rest of the world. If it wasn't so pathetic, this all would be funny. Kiss more money goodbye.

  • UPWESTER
    May 09, 2014 - 16:45

    I wonder how much this is going to cost us. No one comes to PEI to do anything unless the government (us) is giving gobs of money to attract them to come here for a couple of years and then leave once the money runs out. This land is not suited for apples, all one has to do is look at the quality of apples grown on PEI. There is no market for them, other than the juice market. Has anyone ever seen local apples in Sobey's or SuperStore?

    • John Brady
      May 10, 2014 - 17:48

      Actually there are high quality Island grown apples available in Sobeys stores from Sept. to March. Also many people visit one of the 5 u-picks to pick apples in Sept. & Oct. High quality Island apples are also available In the Farmers' markets in Summerside & Charlottetown in the fall and winter.

    • UPWESTER
      May 11, 2014 - 21:40

      Actually, they are not high quality apples, in fact, they are inferior to most. Don't let Buy Local go to your head. True, you can buy them at 5 roadside shops, but that doesn't make them top quality.

  • Cringed now Worried
    May 09, 2014 - 13:18

    A little snooping on the net revealed this gem"CHANDIGARH: Canadian Nectar Products (CNP), a fruit growing, processing and marketing company involved in growing apples and other fruit orchards equipped to cater to the international market, is inviting Indian investors to participate in a 1,000 acres apple orchards integrated project in Prince Edward Island in Canada. Its sister company Caucasian Nectar Products is already involved in establishing fruit orchards in Republic of Georgia in East Europe and catering to the international market. Amarjeet Singh Jatana, President and CEO of CNP, told a news conference here today that initially they are opening up 150 acres for investment in Prince Edward Island, where they are offering 10 acre orchard lands for high quality apple business for 4,00,000 Canadian dollars (approx Rs 2.28 crore) with the promise of high quality infrastructure for cultivation, processing, grading and controlled area storage, processing and marketing of the produce to both neighbouring and far off apple consuming international markets."

  • Peter
    May 09, 2014 - 12:10

    Rob's first job wasn't working for Sheila.. his first job was at Brudenell Golf and CC. ...a government job... then a summer working w the road crews on PEI... then after graduating w his General Arts degree... THEN he worked for Sheila in Ottawa... then on to Scotiabank (government affairs office in Ottawa)... then Cretien's "Atlantic Assistant??" whatever the title was... then back to the Island to assume the Leadership of the Liberal Party... then Premier. ... and how will PEI become the apple capital... there are orchards in the NS valey that are larger than the entire Island... how does that work? Something doesn't smell right w this one.

  • John Brady
    May 09, 2014 - 11:58

    Thank you to the person who sent me the link for this article. I don't read the newspaper and this "article" illustrates why. This isn't news: this is a free promotion for CNPI. I have been growing apples on PEI commercially for over 30 years. My small orchard was established with my own money and labor. I was not one of the apple growers contacted by CNPI, Ms. Copps or Mr. Jatana. As to my level of excitement over the announcement, please read on. Considering that Sheila Copps--a former politician--is the main source of the misinformation provided, one should hardly be surprised that the article is filled with half truths and complete fallacies with just a few being: the supposed shortage of apples in Europe, storing apples for 300 days results in flavourless fruit because they have to be picked before they're ready, and as a member of the PEI Apple Growers' Association I am unaware of any member being contacted by CNPI!

  • townie22
    May 09, 2014 - 10:59

    sheesh!! this appears to me to be a good news story, jobs, more exports, etc., but some people are just dead set on criticizing this Government no matter what they do. don't get me wrong, this Government has made mistakes, the same as all Governments do, but in this case......

  • rob
    May 09, 2014 - 10:04

    europe produces the majority of the apples on earth !!! so good luck with that...shortage of apples??who comes up with this stuff ?

  • question
    May 09, 2014 - 09:56

    On a DR OZ episode he claims potatoes and apples carry the most harmful chemicals and were 2 of the veg and fruits to avoid. So was he right?

  • Margaret Butcher
    May 09, 2014 - 09:54

    Very interesting and in some ways, good news for PEI agriculture. However, how can land purchases by CNPI (an off-Island entity) be made within the current restrictions on IRAC. 155 acres is well above the non-resident allowable limit. Also, while CNPI has stated that they will not require a high capacity deep wells for irrigation purposes, what about the packing facility they intend to build? With the promise of jobs for "lots of people", it would suggest that any size of well them might need will easily get approval - is that fair? There are areas in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick that are much more suitable for apple production than PEI - why hasn't this company gone there - not as many tax incentives perhaps?

  • What A Crock
    May 09, 2014 - 08:53

    Did you notice ! Money wasn't mentioned , just lot's of job's . ha,ha Believe me this is going to cost us a lot & will probably put our existing apple growers out of business . But what the heck , these growers built their orchards with their own money & hard work . So why not close them down , it's for the betterment of all islanders in this goverments option .

  • kim
    May 09, 2014 - 08:49

    155 acres of land and it sounds like that's just the beginning! Once again a large piece of our little Island is being sold off!

  • Cring worthy
    May 09, 2014 - 08:25

    I shuddered when I read this. This is Prince Edward Island, 1% of the total land area of Canada. Please stop thinking it's the centre of the known universe. All I can see is dollar bills winging their way off Island AGAIN. It just sounds like a bunch of snake oil. "Copps said the European market is only seven hours away from P.E.I. and the Island’s proximity to Halifax’s deep water port is a huge advantage." There is no ship that can make it to Europe in seven hours .. who writes this stuff??? I am a Disgusted Taxpayer and see no end in sight to this misuse of public money.

    • fly by night
      May 09, 2014 - 10:34

      Agree with you 110%. This is just a provincial government money-sucking operation by Grewal and Copps. The apple capital of the Maritimes is in the Annapolis Valley where a goodly portion of an area the size of all of PEI is dedicated to fruit crops. Local boy Al Roach will no doubt pay for the entire thing, so the broke taxpayers of PEI will be footing a good portion of the bill for this supposedly ''private'' venture. Don't forget, Ghiz used to work for Copps as she gave him his first job after he ''graduated'' from Bishops.

  • Good laugh
    May 09, 2014 - 07:19

    "Ghiz’s first job was working for Copps in Ottawa. " How drole! This is why we are sinking into financial oblivion. Our government does not know what a "First Job" is. A group of either spoon-fed-spoiled MLA's or led-by-the-nose wannabes! Help someone help as the opposition is worse!

  • grapes
    May 09, 2014 - 06:45

    Will Ghiz get sucked in again . BEWARE. This is going to cost the taxpayer!!!!!

    • frank ready
      June 10, 2014 - 10:10

      Ghiz sucked in? The taxpayers are the ones getting sucked in! The purpose of government is to pass tax money to corporations.

    • frank ready
      June 10, 2014 - 10:11

      Ghiz sucked in? The taxpayers are the ones getting sucked in! The purpose of government is to pass tax money to corporations.