N.S. blueberry processor backed to boost capacity

A Nova Scotia company processing and juicing wild blueberries has picked up a federal loan to ramp up its production capacity and expand its market reach.

Van Dyk’s Health Juice Products, based at Caledonia in Queens County, will get over $94,000 from the AgriProcessing Initiative, the government announced Thursday.

The repayable funding is to go toward buying and installing a new bottling line at Van Dyk’s wild blueberry juice processing plant, help improve food safety standards and boost production capacity.

The project is also expected to increase the annual demand for Canadian wild blueberries and create new jobs, the government said.

“We were becoming timid to further pursue our markets overseas for fear we could not supply them and this funding helped us get over that,” company president Casey Van Dyk said in the government’s release.

Van Dyk’s, the government noted, created the first commercial 100 per cent pure wild blueberry juice in the world and developed markets and distribution for the product in both Canada and the U.S.

The company’s latest move to step up production is expected to supply its expansion into Asian markets. The company got an unspecified investment in late 2008 from the provincial government to help back its move into that overseas market.

Van Dyk’s markets the product in 500-millilitre bottles and promotes it on the basis of blueberries’ antioxidant properties. In an unopened bottle, the product is shelf-stable for up to a year, the company says.

The five-year, $50 million federal AgriProcessing Initiative, which helps processors finance new (or new-to-company) technologies and equipment, flows from the government’s five-year (2009-14), $500 million Agricultural Flexibility Fund.

Projects involving AgriProcessing funds have to be completed by the end of March 2014.

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