Japanese sister city hopes Victoria is sweet on its apples

Sweet crisp apples from Victoria’s sister city, Morioka, Japan, are for sale here as farmers start to bring their product to Canada.

A total of 900 kilograms of apples arrived by air for sale at Fujiya Foods, 3624 Shelbourne St., and on the Lower Mainland in Richmond at Foody World Supermarket, 3000 Sexsmith Rd.

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Another three tonnes is heading to B.C. on a ship, Hidenori Nagasawa, director-general of Morioka’s Agriculture and Forestry Department, said through a translator on Friday.

The aim is sell three more tonnes of apples, for a total of six tonnes, and expand markets in Canada, he said. “This is just the beginning.”

When Canadian food regulations were consolidated last year, it became easier to bring apples to Canada, he said.

Morioka, a major apple-producing area, decided to start with Victoria because of the sister city connection, Nagasawa said.

Also, Morioka has been designated as a host town for Canadian teams during the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

“With this relationship we thought it would be good to bring our apples to Canada.”

Ken Kitada, farmer and chairman of the Committee of Apple Farmers with the Iwate Chuoh Agricultural Co-operatives, said 30 farmers are growing the apples.

Selling apples to Canada is good for their economy, he said.

He described the large apples, harvested in November, as crisp and having a honey flavour. The large apples are known to be juicy, crunchy and super sweet.

Morioka produces award-winning apples. It has won the Iwate Prefecture apple contest eight years in a row.

Officials from Morioka, including Mayor Hiroaki Tanifuji, are in Victoria for a visit with city representatives, including Mayor Lisa Helps.

Japanese Sansa dancers will perform Morioka’s traditional drum dance and hand out apple samples at the downtown Bay Centre today at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Apples are also a major agricultural product in B.C.

Close to 40 varieties of apples are grown by B.C. farmers, with an annual farm-gate value in 2017 of $59.5 million, according to B.C.’s Agriculture Ministry.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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