When Avi Gill and his brother Sumeet started looking to the future of their family farm, they never could have imagined how far their healthy fruit sodas would reach. With the help of export advisor Amber Piché, Farming Karma Fruit Co. is getting ready to expand into the United States and forecasts extensive growth in export markets.

For most, karma means getting what you give. For Farming Karma Fruit Co. owners Avi Gill, his wife Binny Boparai and his brother Sumeet, it takes on two additional meanings: doing good for the community and people’s health, and paying homage to their family roots.

The Kelowna-based beverage company creates fruit sodas without any added sugars or preservatives using fruit grown by Avi and Sumeet’s parents, Kuku and Karma Gill. With a focus on giving back to the community, Farming Karma brings fruit from the family farm to tables across Canada and soon, the United States.

And, Avi says, it’s all thanks to the help of Export Navigator and Thompson-Okanagan advisor, Amber Piché.

“Working with Amber has been such an amazing experience, especially being new in the industry,” says Avi. “There aren’t many resources out there where they tell you how to become a successful beverage company. Export Navigator has been that resource for us. From the beginning, Amber has helped point us towards export opportunities and expand our export portfolio.”

After leaving the Okanagan to study at the University of British Columbia where he met his wife Binny, Avi, his brother Sumeet and their father Karma began discussing the future of the farm that had been in the family for more than 30 years. In 2020, only a few short months before the pandemic, Farming Karma began to take shape.

In 2022 after the beverage company’s official launch, Avi started looking for ways to grow the business and discovered the Export Navigator program.

Within a few short years, Farming Karma has grown into a business that employs more than 30 agricultural workers and five people on the juicing and canning side of the production.

Today, after two years of expanding in the Canadian market and entering multiple national grocery chains—including Safeway, Save-On-Foods, Independent, Buy-Low Foods and Nesters Food Market—Farming Karma is primed to enter the United States.

“We didn’t envision getting to where we are today,” Avi says. “At the time, it was just taking our fruit and turning it to juice. One thing led to another and here we are.”

From obtaining grants to getting a spot at Expo West in Anaheim, California and having buyer meetings across multiple states, Avi believes that small and medium-sized businesses at all stages can benefit from Amber and Export Navigator’s experience.

“In the beginning, the biggest challenge we faced was just finding a way to get the information we needed. It’s such a steep learning curve with every place having its own way of importing,” says Avi. “Some things you just can’t know until you’ve gone through it. With Export Navigator, you have a resource and people you can reach out to who have that experience. Export Navigator makes it so much easier to go through those hoops and hurdles.”

In preparation for Farming Karma’s expansion, Avi says the team ran a trial export run to Hong Kong over four months. Avi hopes to start selling in the US in spring 2024 and expects exporting will make up as much as 50 per cent of sales within a few years.

“We’re just in the early stages working for everything to come to fruition, but exporting is going to be a big part of our business,” says Avi. “There are so many other markets for us to explore. We’re happy to do that because, at the end of the day, we just want to spread our good karma as far as it can go.”

Amber Piché