Toronto: A Canadian Sikh farmer, 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 Peter Dhillon is the first person of the visible minority to join the company of great 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, British Columbia. 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 honor,” 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,” Peter 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.” (IANS)