Nova Scotia

Justin Trudeau advises exporters to seek success with Nova Scotia blueberry model

International export success isn't limited to big companies. Just ask a Nova Scotia blueberry farmer from Caledonia.

Queens County blueberry producer's exports to China make up 'significant' part of its business

Van Dyk's Health Juice Products, working with Halifax-based distributor JusNova, has made inroads into the Chinese market. (CBC)

Selling blueberry products to China is a mainstay of one Nova Scotia family's business — the sort of trade link more exporters need to cultivate, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said this week during a visit to the Asian powerhouse.

Caledonia's Van Dyk's Health Juice Products, working with Halifax-based distributor JusNova, shows how any business can benefit from international trade regardless of size, Trudeau said.

"Not just for the large multinational firms like Manulife and Huawei, but also for small- and medium-sized businesses like Nova Scotia's JusNova which — thanks to a joint venture agreement — will be able to build a local manufacturing facility for wild blueberry products," he said Wednesday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is in China this week for his first official visit to that country, touted a Nova Scotia company as a model for trade success. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Van Dyk's produces and labels all the blueberry juice sold in China under Chinese-Canadian distributor JusNova's brand — an agreement that has benefited both firms.

Lucrative agreement

Casey and Henrica Van Dyk and their family began harvesting wild blueberries nearly 40 years ago and produce blueberry juice for local and foreign markets.

Van Dyk business manager Randy MacDonald says JusNova approached Van Dyk about a partnership three and a half years ago. (CBC)

Van Dyk business manager Randy MacDonald says JusNova started out selling Nova Scotia lobsters to China and began looking for other products to plug into its distribution chain. The owners approached Van Dyk with a deal to market and distribute the company's wild blueberry juice under the JusNova banner. 

"That was three and a half years ago. It's evolved now to the point where they represent a significant piece of our business, with product into the Chinese market," MacDonald told CBC News.

JusNova president Yuan Yao is currently travelling in China, but said in an email that he was not at the gala where Trudeau made his speech.

"It was to our pleasant surprise that the prime minister mentioned our company during his keynote this week in China," he told CBC News.

'Without them, it doesn't happen'

"These guys know how to get product into the country, how to go through customs, who the buyers and distributors are," MacDonald said.

"It's hugely important. Without them, it doesn't happen."

He declined to discuss how much blueberry juice the company is selling in China.

MacDonald did say exports make up about 30 per cent of Van Dyk's business and, thanks to JusNova, shipments to China can now be measured in container loads.

About the Author

Paul Withers


Paul Withers is an award-winning journalist whose career started in the 1970s as a cartoonist. He has been covering Nova Scotia politics for more than 20 years.