Developing markets at home and abroad

as we begin the month of September it makes me think of new beginnings and opportunity as the school year starts for the kids and farmers begin harvest and planning for the upcoming crop year.

At Grain Farmers of Ontario it is a time when the focus is on Market Development, both domestically and overseas.  In Ontario, preparation is well underway for the next Royal Agricultural Winter Fair where we showcase the diversity of products that are made with Ontario’s corn, soybean and wheat crops including many bio-products like adhesives, paints and insulation. In order to build the best display possible, we reach out to companies developing new food and bio-products to begin developing a stronger relationship between end product manufacturers and the farmers growing their raw materials.  The goal is to build a stronger supply chain over time that will encourage expansion here in Canada and can be enhanced through IP varieties developed for their target end use.

In overseas market development we are gearing up for a fall and early winter of trade missions by completing the harvest survey analysis and developing our communication materials.  The first mission of this crop year will be an incoming trade mission from Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand interested in seeing our high quality Canadian soybeans first hand.  There is also a Canadian soybean presence planned for the Soy and Grain Summit this year in St. Louis in November and an outgoing soybean trade mission planned for February 2012.  The Canadian Soybean Dispatch, a document we develop in partnership with the Canadian International Grains Institute and other soybean growing provinces in Canada, will be updated with the harvest and analysis data from the 2011 crop year for the outgoing mission in February.

Our market development team also prepares a complete wheat harvest survey each year that includes harvest quantitative and qualitative data from across the province for all classes of wheat.  This information is printed in our annual ONWheat magazine that is distributed to wheat buyers in Canada and around the world with detailed wheat specifications along with profiles of our farmers and highlights of our province’s wheat growing regions.  

Here at home we will also be encouraging participation in our Market Development Fund again this year by inviting companies to pitch product ideas to our Market Development Committee this fall that will leverage funding from Grain Farmers of Ontario into a market opportunity that benefits both the company and Ontario grain farmers.  Last year, Grain Farmers of Ontario committed over $200,000 to projects dedicated to creating new and reformulated Ontario corn, soybean and wheat products. Some of these products include soybean based lubricants, a soybean based asphalt resurfacing solution, bio plastics developed to use in racecar bodies and new products using Ontario wheat including pasta and flat breads.

In addition to exciting opportunities at Grain Farmers of Ontario, there were a couple of exciting promotional events we were pleased to take part in recently. First, was the invitation we received to the opening of Parrish & Heimbecker’s new grain storage facility in the Hamilton harbor.  The company has erected two grain storage domes, each able to hold 28,000 tonnes, along with a conveyance system capable of loading and unloading 800 tonnes of grain per hour.  This investment will mean greater access to the St. Lawrence Seaway to reach high value export markets, greater imports of competitively priced agricultural inputs and increased efficiency of grain movement at harvest.  The second exciting event was Brown-Forman’s launch of a new Canadian whisky that will expand the premium market for Ontario corn and bring the local grain market some notoriety by connecting the new whisky, distilled in and aptly named “Collingwood,” to its roots by promoting that the grain used for the whisky is locally grown.  Collingwood Canadian Whisky, the first new major Canadian whisky to hit the market in almost a decade, can be found in select LCBO stores (LCBO# 244186) across Ontario now, with full scale distribution set for October.

This time of year is always filled with promise and excitement and we look forward to these market development initiatives delivering increased value to our members in the near future. •