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For Canadian Christmas tree exporters – ‘Tis the season to be jolly

(OTTAWA) – December 12, 2014

At this very moment, thousands of Canadian grown Christmas trees are making their way to destinations all over the world, including the United States, Russia, El Salvador, Japan, even Trinidad and Tobago.

In fact, when it comes to exporting Christmas trees, Canadians are at the top of the game. As the number one Christmas tree exporter in the world, Canada exported over 1.5 million trees in 2013, culminating in a value of almost CAD 28 million.

Following a decrease in demand during the recession in the United States in 2008 and 2009, things have steadily been looking up for Canadians in the Christmas tree exporting business. What’s more, a looming Christmas tree shortage in the United States has Canadian Christmas tree exporters looking ahead to further potential growth.

“Canada exported almost 1.6 million trees in 2013,” says Ross Prusakowski, EDC economist. “Because the majority of these trees (approximately 1.5 million) went to the United States, a low Canadian dollar should help bolster revenue for Canadian exporters this year.”

One province looking to further benefit from the Christmas tree industry is Nova Scotia. The maritime province is the second largest exporter of Christmas trees (behind Quebec), exporting 95% of their total annual production.

“The Christmas tree industry provides jobs for about 4,000 people in rural Nova Scotia,” says Colette Wyllie, Industry Coordinator with the Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia. “It’s a valuable industry for us. We are always looking at ways to improve our growing techniques, produce high quality trees and increase exporting opportunities.”

In an effort to increase revenue, Canadian Christmas tree exporters are looking for ways to get their trees in the hands of Europeans. “There is a growing market in Europe for real Christmas trees and a shortage in countries like the UK,” says Wyllie. “They appreciate the environmentally friendly aspect of real trees – our trees are 100% renewable, they provide oxygen, and they seed naturally meaning very few chemicals are involved in production.”

‘You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch’

But here’s where the Grinch comes in. Well, more a beetle than a Grinch - but a slimy character all the same. Europe has long rejected Canadian Christmas trees over fears of pine wilt nematode, a parasite that kills trees and is carried by the pine sawyer beetle.

With funding from Growing Forward 2, a federal, provincial and territorial investment program, the Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia recently partnered with Dr. Suzanne Blatt of Agriculture and Agri-food Canada to conduct extensive research in an effort to demonstrate to Europe that their trees are nematode free.

Wyllie is optimistic. “If positive, the idea is to present the findings to regulators and gain access to the European market.”

About EDC

EDC is Canada’s trade finance agency, providing financing and insurance solutions locally and around the world to help Canadian companies of any size respond to international business opportunities. As a profitable Crown corporation that operates on commercial principles, EDC works together with private and public-sector financial institutions to create greater capacity for Canadian companies to engage in trade and investment.

For more information about how we can help your company, call us at
1-888-434-8508 or visit www.edc.ca.

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Spokesperson

Phil Taylor
Export Development Canada
(613) 598-2904
ptaylor@edc.ca
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