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An economic study of the small fruits industry in British Columbia Gray, James Melrose

Abstract

During the summer of 1946, a study was initiated of the Small Fruits industry of British Columbia. Seventy-eight (78) farms producing Small Fruits were visited and from each, details of the farm business for the year 1946 were secured. The purpose of this part of the work was to obtain data on farm incomes from Small Fruits production. In addition to the farm income survey, a study was made of the industry as a whole, and the results of the farm survey were related to the overall picture. The findings of this study may be summarized as follows: (1) The average labour income from Small Fruits production on the seventy-eight farms studies was $1201.00. The average acreage in berries was 4.18 acres. (2) Very great variations were observed in the size of enterprise, the degree of specialization, and the labour income. (3) The larger sized enterprises were usually more successful than the smaller ones. Three acres in Small Fruits was the minimum acreage associated with success. (4) Specialized enterprises were more successful and more efficient than diversified enterprises. (5)The bulk of the Small Fruits crop is produced by a relatively small proportion of the growers (90 per cent of the fruit is grown by 10 per cent of the producers). These farmers have large enterprises and produce most of the tonnage. They also produce at a greater margin of profit. (6) An examination of the prices and tonnage marketed during the years 1914-41 indicated that the trend is towards increased production and a constant price. The total value of the crop has been increasing steadily. A large crop is worth more than a small crop, even though the latter may sell at a somewhat higher price. This means that the demand for strawberries is elastic, that the market cannot be flooded readily. This may be an important factor in the future of industry. (7) Finally, Small Fruits are important in the rural economy of the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island. These areas enjoy a comparative advantage in Small Fruits production and berry crops tend to drive other agricultural enterprises out. Berry growing is a means of utilizing the unique climatic resources of these areas.

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