Industry Integration

Growers had been discussing various forms of amalgamation of packing facilities at least since the time of the MacPhee Report. In the late 1960s the leadership of the B.C.F.G.A. put forward the idea of a consolidation of all packing, storage, and selling operations in one unit. A joint meeting of the District Councils at Penticton in August, 1969, authorized the expenditure of $28,500 to cover Part 1 of a study by P.S. Ross & Partners in connection with work carried out by the Industry Integration Committee.' But the 1970 B.C.F.G.A. Convention turned down the proposition. Allan Claridge recalls:

Filling Handi-Paks at Kelowna Growers' Exchange.Courtesy Keloivtia Centennial Museum

The Association promoted the idea of B.C. Tree Fruits and the packing houses being one unit on the grounds that the growers had trusted B.C. Tree Fruits with the sale of their product for many years, that we only packed it in order to be able to sell it, and if we could trust one entity with the total job of selling, why on earth couldn't we consolidate all our packing into one unit and therefore get the uniformity that many people said was necessary. This caused a tremendous amount of disruption in the industry. . . . Packing houses generally were opposed. It was an interesting thing. Growers as a whole at grower meetings tended to favour amalgamation. When they went to packing house meetings they tended to vote against it. And when it came to a real showdown at the Convention, it divided many of the people who strongly supported the industry in total . . . and history of course shows that we lost.

Claridge opposed the alternative of shrinking the number of houses by regional consolidation to four or five on the grounds that it would make the houses too powerful and lead to their dictating to B.C. Tree Fruits. Experience has certainly borne out his opinion.

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