Toronto (IANS): Peter Dhillon, who is the country’s biggest cranberry grower, has made history with his induction into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame.
The British Columbia-based Dhillon is the first person of visible minority to join the company of Canadians who have made their mark in agriculture and agro-food business.
Dhillon is also the current chairman of Ocean Spray – a marketing cooperative of cranberry farmers in the US and Canada. Ocean Spray sells its products in over 90 countries, with annual sales of over $2.5 billion.
At Ocean Spray also, Dhillon broke the glass ceiling to become its first non-white chairman in 2014.
Dhillon, whose full name is Peter Povitar Dhillon, runs his cranberry farming operations under the name of Richberry Group of Companies based in Richmond, B.C.
Unveiling his portrait at the annual Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Toronto, Dhillon said he was humbled to be inducted into the company of great Canadians.
“It is a great honour for me and I feel humbled because there are so many others who deserve this honour,” he said.
His father Rachpal Singh Dhillon came to Canada in 1950 from Pandori village in Hoshiarpur and became the first Indo-Canadian to join the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) at the age of 19, rising to the rank of Deputy Sheriff.
In 1981-82, he took early retirement to get into cranberry farming full time.
Peter Dhillon joined the family business in 1993 after finishing his law degree from the UK.
Currently, he has over 2,000 acres, just behind the world’s biggest cranberry farmers in Massachusetts who own about 2,500 acres. His Richberry Group produced over 20 million pounds of cranberries last year.
“We hope to hit the 30 million-mark soon in production,” Dhillon said.
As chairman of Ocean Spray, he said he has been to India to explore the possibilities of entering the Indian market.
“There is a huge potential for cranberry juice and dried products in India as Indians are becoming increasingly health conscious.”
According to the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame:
Five accomplished agricultural leaders were officially inducted into the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame as part of the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, Ontario. Ted Bilyea, Peter Dhillon, Wilf Keller, Larry Martin and Gerry Ritz join the distinguished ranks of Canadians who have made outstanding contributions to Canadian agriculture throughout their careers.
Nominated by Wally Oppal
Peter Dhillon is a driving force behind Canada’s growing cranberry industry. He’s at the helm of the largest cranberry farm in Canada with operations in British Columbia and Quebec. And he’s one of the largest shareholders and chair of the board of Ocean Spray, the largest cranberry cooperative in the world. A proud second-generation farmer, philanthropist and businessman, Peter gives generously of his time and resources to support a diverse range of initiatives with his strong sense of ethics and duty to enrich the agricultural industry in Canada. He’s supported the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture at Kwantlen Polytechnical University, and established the Peter P. Dhillon Centre for Business Ethics at the University of British Columbia.