Marketing
October 11, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – Essentials of Selling Local Food takes place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on October 24, 2017, at the Wildwood Recreation Complex in Wildwood, Alta.

“This one-day workshop is for people interested in learning more about selling food direct to consumers and potentially transitioning into retail sales,” said Delores Serafin with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “You’ll learn about the local food opportunity, and the different farm direct marketing channels, their benefits and challenges. As well, you’ll hear about the scope of the retail market, market drivers and the pros and cons of accessing the retail market opportunity.”

At the workshop, participants will:
  • meet the Alberta agriculture specialists available to assist you as you establish your food business
  • hear about the regulations that apply to your food business
  • Alberta Health Services will share the food regulation requirements as well as safe food handling practices
  • learn everything you need to know as you assess the retail food market
  • receive insights into the Yellowhead County Local Food initiative
Cost is $23.75 plus GST, and lunch and refreshments will be provided. The registration deadline is October 17, 2017. Registration can be done online or by calling 1-800-387-6030.

For more information, contact Delores Serafin at 780-427-4611 or via email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .'; document.write( '' ); document.write( addy_text7257 ); document.write( '<\/a>' ); //--> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
October 3,2017, Guelph, Ont – Ontario farmers who are thinking about growing a non-traditional crop have a valuable new tool to assess whether it’s a profitable idea. Making a Case for Growing New Crops is an online learning resource recently developed by the Agri-Food Management Institute (AMI) to help farmers engage in business planning before planting.

“This resource will help you decide if that new crop is right for your farm at this time,” says Ashley Honsberger, executive director of AMI.

According to Honsberger, farmers are increasingly looking at non-traditional crops to meet new customer preferences, realize higher value per acre, or for crop rotation and other environmental benefits.

The resource was developed in partnership with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), who surveyed members earlier this year to gauge interest in growing new crops, as well as the best method of delivering information.

“We know Ontario farmers are interested in growing new crops, and are looking for timely information on marketing a crop, finding buyers and locating processors,” says Keith Currie, OFA president. “We appreciated providing AMI with industry input on a resource that will ultimately support farm business management and reduce the risk of expanding into a new crop.”

Making a Case for Growing New Crops features five interactive modules that users work through on their own schedule to develop a business case for diversifying their farm. Through a series of videos and worksheets, users can determine whether the crop is an agronomic fit, identify customers and markets, analyze their cost of production and develop a budget. In the end, they will have a personalized and confidential report that includes a business model canvas (a one-page visual business plan) as well as an action plan to share with their team and use to communicate with their advisors and lenders.

“Whatever the reason, taking time to build a business case for growing new crops makes sense,” says Honsberger. “While we encourage farmers to take a new approach, we also want them to really evaluate the opportunity and manage any potential risks associated with growing new crops.”

Of the 402 farmers responding to the online survey about new crops – as part of the Making a Case for Growing News Crops project – about 20 per cent had tried a new crop in the past five years. The main reasons farmers chose to trying something new included: changing markets and emerging opportunities (29 per cent), crop rotation and environmental benefits (24 per cent), and reducing overall risk through diversification (24 per cent). And 27 per cent of farmers said they develop a business plan before beginning a new crop opportunity.

For growers who had not introduced a new crop in the last five years, 7 per cent plan to in the next two years, 49 per cent do not plan to, and 44 per cent were undecided. These results suggest farmers are open to new crop opportunities, but are hesitant and unsure of how successful they may be.

The survey findings also contributed to OFA’s submission for the Bring Home the World: Improving Access to Ontario’s World Foods consultation by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
October 3, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – Alberta seed potato companies are invited to participate in a market development mission to Thailand from November 19-27, 2017.

The mission will include stops in Bangkok, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, Thailand to meet with importers, distributors and potential customers as well as touring local potato farm operations.

“This mission will profile Alberta as a reliable producer of high quality, low virus seed potatoes,” says Rachel Luo, senior trade and relations officer with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “This will be the first market development mission focused on seed potato suppliers to Thailand since Alberta was granted market access last year.”

To be eligible to participate in this mission, companies should be providers of seed potatoes and interested in the Thai marketplace.

There is no fee to participate in the program; however, companies are responsible for payment of their own travel expenses and any other costs occurred.

Participating companies may be reimbursed for their participation for 1/2 of the actual designated participation costs, up to a maximum of $2,500 [CDN]. Reimbursement is to help offset a portion of their travel expenses including airfares and accommodations for one representative per company.

Participating companies will receive full details about eligible expenses in their confirmation letter.

For more information, contact Rachel Luo, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Space is limited. The application deadline is October 13, 2017.
September 11, 2017, Guelph, Ont – Ontario’s newest fruit crop, the Cold Snap pear, has gone from zero to zoom in record time and is now available through five major retail grocery chains. It’s a great grassroots success story that checks all the boxes giving Canadian growers an exciting new profitable crop option, and offering consumers locally produced fruit throughout the winter.

Ontario researchers at Vineland Research Innovation Centre set out to develop a new winter hearty pear to provide a new opportunity for Ontario growers. The resulting new variety – trademarked Cold Snap pear – was licensed to Vineland Growers Cooperative, a 300-member fruit and vegetable growing and processing cooperative in Ontario’s Niagara Region.

When the new pear was ready for commercial orchards, 80,000 trees were planted in Ontario and the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. After three years, the new trees began producing enough fruit to take to market. That’s where some of the most interesting challenges began.

“The hardest part of launching a new product is customer awareness and buy in,” says Matt Ecker, sales and business development manager with Vineland Growers Cooperative. “The Growing Forward 2 (GF2) funding we received through the Agricultural Adaptation Council helped us develop and deliver messaging about the new pear directly to consumers through in-store demonstrations.”

And the response has been very positive for the new variety.

“Once people try our pears, they really liked them but we needed to make our brand pop to be able to change consumer behaviour about when they could buy fresh, local pears,” says Ecker.

Sales are off to a strong start and customer feedback indicates that Ontario consumers are embracing the new fruit option and enjoying the taste and texture of the Cold Snap pear.

For growers who planted the new pear, the opportunities are as refreshing as the fruit. Cold Snap pears are grown in high-density plantings. As the trees mature and grow into full production, growers can expect to yield up to 20 tonne/acre of fruit – or nearly double the yield of low density orchard plantings.

Higher yields bring greater efficiencies and profitability for growers. And the consumer marketing efforts will continue to build demand and bring higher returns to growers for this high value food product.

“Most consumers don’t realize they can buy Canadian pears into the winter season,” says Ecker. “We’re continuing our marketing and brand awareness push with consumers. We have marketing partners in Nova Scotia. And as we continue to grow consumer demand for our pear, we have plans to expand production with growers in British Columbia.”

Cold Snap pears will be available in five retailers in Ontario and Quebec for the 2017 season: Loblaws, Sobeys, Metro, Wal-Mart and Costco.
September 7, 2017, Niagara, Ont – The Grape Growers of Ontario, Wine Council of Ontario and Winery & Grower Alliance of Ontario have successfully negotiated a grape price agreement for the 2017 harvest.

This agreement recognizes the various price categories within the industry, and includes an important proviso for both processors and producers to actively participate in developing a sustainable industry wide plan following harvest.  

“The constant in our industry is the consistent grape quality our growers produce every year to make 100 per cent Ontario grown wine,” said Matthias Oppenlaender, chair of the GGO. “This agreement recognizes that growers, with their wine partners, can work together to collectively build and strengthen our grape and wine industry’s future.”

WGAO members purchase some 85 per cent of the grapes grown by independent farmers in Ontario for VQA and International Canadian Blend (ICB) wines, and we are very pleased that grape growers and processors have arrived at an agreement for grape prices in 2017,” stated Del Rollo, chair of the WGAO.

“I’m pleased we were able to reach an agreement on grape pricing for the 2017 harvest,” said Len Pennachetti, chair of the WCO. “The agreement provides price certainty, which will help wineries plan and potentially grow their businesses.”

Ontario’s grape and wine industry is a significant economic driver to the provincial economy which contributes over $4.4 billion economic impact through jobs, tourism and taxes, particularly in the province’s designated viticulture areas: Niagara Peninsula, Prince Edward County, Lake Erie North Shore, and the emerging South Coast region.
August 9, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – The Agri-tourism and Farm Direct Marketing Bus Tour takes place September 11, 2017, in the Spruce Grove/West Yellowhead region.

“The tour will feature family-run businesses doing innovative things on smaller farms in rural Alberta,” says Colin Gosselin, with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry based in Stony Plain. “It will also feature a delicious local food lunch, an artisan winery tour, an experienced agri-tourism coach, and opportunities for networking, sharing, and discussion.”

Stops are at Happy Acres U-Pick, Shady Lane Estate and Leaman Exchange.

Cost for the tour is $25 per person, and includes tour transportation, lunch and refreshments. The bus pick-up and drop-off point will be in the Spruce Grove area. An alternate drop-off point in the Wildwood area is possible.

To register, call 1-800-387-603 by September 6. For more information, contact Colin Gosselin at 780-968-3518.
July 13, 2017, Barrie, Ont. - Sprout Barrie is a 10 week business development program designed to help entrepreneurs take their food ideas from concept to market.

Sprout will provide you with the skills and training you need to develop your food business. The program in comprised of weekly seminars on key business development topics like developing a sales pitch and how to develop your food label.

It also provides significant time in a culinary lab, where you will have access to food product developers who can guide you on the development and scaling up of your food item, using professional culinary equipment. At the end of this 10 week program, you will have a "sale-ready" product formula, a detailed business launch plan and a strong forecast of the profitability of your business.

Sprout is ideal for food entrepreneurs who have an idea and have done some research into their market, target audience, potential product benefit and competitive set. The ideal attendee has also developed their first draft of their business plan and can use this program to fill in the detail. It is also great for those who are currently selling at farmer's markets and festivals, but who want to take their product concept to the next level to target a broader retail audience.

Tell us if this program is a fit for you: 
Georgian College, Agri-Management Food Institute and City of Barrie have been developing a unique educational program for Food Entrepreneurs. Details of the program can be found:http://www.barrie.ca/Doing%20Business/Business-Development/programs/Pages/sprout.aspx

Your input is incredibly important as we want to develop a program that makes sense for you as an entrepreneur who is looking to grow your food business. Please click on the link below to fill the anonymous survey.
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9SJCMGD
July 6, 2017, Quebec - Quebec’s love affair with potatoes shows no sign of fading.

While 10-pound bags are still a big seller, the success of specialty spuds from Edmonton, Alberta-based Little Potato Co. is inspiring the province’s growers to try new varieties and package their own lines.

“Little Potato Co. kits continue to surpass objectives, showing double-digit growth month after month,” said Dino Farrese, executive vice president of Boucherville, Quebec-based product specialist Bellemont Powell.

Farrese said Quebecers love the ease and convenience of not having to peel potatoes and being able to cook them on the barbecue or in the microwave.

“It offers a fresh, quality side that people are going crazy for,” he said.

Gord Medynski, director of sales and purchasing for St. Ubalde, Quebec-based Patates Dolbec, said the company has tripled its acreage of creamer potatoes this year to about 80 acres after three years of successful trials. READ MORE 
July 4, 2017, Regina, Sask. - As Canadians enjoy fresh, local fruit this summer, producers can expect mixed results from the fruits of their labour this fall.

In 2016, Canadian and United States fruit growers increased their production, but didn't necessarily see the demand to match, leading to an oversupply and lower prices for many fruit sectors. As a result, Farm Credit Canada’s (FCC) agriculture economists are predicting a mixed outlook for fruit growers in 2017.

“It’s a balancing act to produce enough fruit to meet demand, but not so much as to cause an oversupply that puts downward pressure on prices,” said J.P. Gervais, FCC chief agricultural economist. “Fortunately, a low Canadian dollar has been supporting prices for Canadian fruit producers and will help offset the full impact of a large supply in some sectors of the industry.”

Gervais added the real benefit will be to the Canadian consumer, who may see lower prices for some fruit – such as apples – at the grocery store.

Wine-making grapes fetch better prices

Grapes that are grown for wine-making in Ontario and British Columbia squeezed out an average three per cent price increase, which helped offset the lower prices for fresh grapes in 2016. Overall, the industry had a good year in 2016, as production increased by 22 per cent from the previous year.

Market prices for grapes are mixed based on the variety, quality and the end use, however, prices currently remain strong for wine grapes as demand is expected to continue growing in 2017.

Increased cranberry yields help offset lower prices

The cranberry industry has had several years of low prices due to growing North American supplies of cranberries.

In Canada, acreage devoted to growing cranberries has remained steady in British Columbia, but has increased in Quebec over the past five years. While prices remain low, rising production and better yields have compensated for low prices, boosting farm cash receipts.

In 2016, Canadian cranberry receipts reached a record $132.6 million, for an increase of 8.8 per cent, an all-time record high. There is also a growing demand for specialized markets segmentation in the cranberry industry, such as organic. Profitability depends on producers’ ability to continually improve their productivity.

Large 2016 harvest pushes apple prices lower

Canadian apple production was up 14 per cent while U.S. apple production increased by four per cent from 2015.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s monthly apple storage report indicates apple supplies are 98 per cent higher than last year’s level, so a large supply remains a challenge. As a result, Canadian retail apple prices are down 13 per cent in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016, but still remain above the previous five-year average. The same trend has impacted U.S. fresh apple market prices, which are down 12 per cent in 2017 and remain near the previous five-year average.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook indicates that 2017 apple prices should remain below 2016 levels given storage numbers. This price pressure is expected to persist until inventories decline.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2015, 31.5 per cent of Canadians aged 12 and older, roughly nine million people, consumed fruit and vegetables five or more times per day.

To celebrate the international fruit day on July 1, Canadians can eat more fruit throughout 2017 knowing their local grocery store will likely be well stocked with delicious and reasonably-priced Canadian fruit this summer and fall.

For an in-depth look at Canada fruit outlook for 2017, visit the FCC Ag Economics blog post at www.fcc.ca/AgEconomics.
June 8, 2017, Brighton, Ont. - Local Food Week is the annual kick-off to the outdoor farmers' market season, when Ontario growers and their just-picked produce return to communities large and small throughout the province.

The growing season is officially underway!

Although the wet spring we've had this year has delayed crops in some areas, others are right on schedule. According to Catherine Clark, the new Executive Director of Farmers' Markets Ontario, "At the majority of markets, you'll find an abundance of spring crops like fresh asparagus and rhubarb, and some farmers have begun harvesting their strawberries."

Other early-season crops to look for at your local farmers' market are the ones that usher in the season for salads: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, spinach, peppers, beets, cabbage, new potatoes, parsnips and (possibly) baby carrots. But farmers' markets aren't just about fresh local produce. They're also about homemade jams and jellies, delectable baked goods, fragrant botanicals, honey, maple syrup, gourmet cheese, farm-fresh eggs, locally raised meats and even VQA wines.

Farmers' markets are more than just places to buy fresh local foods.

Food isn't the only reason farmers' markets are so popular in Ontario. Catherine Clark points out that "They bring the city and the country together and get everyone talking about food. They also provide wonderful opportunities for parents to teach their children where the food they eat comes from."

And there's more. Clark adds: "They're also fun places to be. They're friendly, colourful places where friends and neighbours arrange to meet and spend time together. They foster a sense of community wherever they spring up." They're also good for the environment, since locally grown food produces a much smaller carbon footprint than food that is transported long distances to reach our plates.

Farmers' markets are immensely important to the estimated 37,000 families in Ontario that are engaged in local agriculture, providing them with needed income and summer jobs for their children. Many farmers are entitled to identify themselves as MyPick® Verified Local Farmers®. It means that they have been visited and verified by Farmers' Markets Ontario (FMO) as local growers who sell only what they produce on their own local farms. The MyPick® designation sets them apart from vendors masquerading as local growers but who are in fact re-sellers of produce from a variety of sources, often imported and/or purchased at food terminals.

Find out more

You can look up the location and operating hours of all 182 member markets of Farmers' Markets Ontario, as well as find information on MyPick® Verified Local Farmers® on the FMO website at farmersmarketsontario.com.
April 28, 2017, St. Thomas, Ont – Area farmers will have a chance to showcase their new products and get a business case for them, thanks to a new pilot project Fanshawe College is bringing to the community.

The initiative, called the Fanshawe Farm Market project, will match Fanshawe faculty and students in the Agri-Business Management program, offered at the Simcoe/Norfolk campus, with local farmers interested in launching new products to the market, so they can be tested during this year’s farmers’ market season. READ MORE
Pete Luckett is a British-Canadian entrepreneur, media personality plus a dynamic speaker. A native of Nottingham, England, Luckett immigrated to Canada in 1979, settling eventually in Nova Scotia.
If you ask a group of random Canadians about whether they trust farmers and Canada’s food system on the whole, you’ll likely hear a variety of responses.
March 24, 2017, Kentville, NS – Loblaws recently recognized Pazazz apple with its top honour – selection as a President’s Choice product.

President’s Choice status is only bestowed on produce and other food items that demonstrate truly exceptional quality, taste and great value to customers.

Grown locally in Canada by Van Meekeren Farms, Pazazz is a premium winter apple variety and has been in development in conjunction with Honeybear Brands for more than nine years. A descendent of the crowd-pleasing Honeycrisp, Pazazz has a unique blend of sweet and tart flavours and explosive crunch that has attracted a loyal following of customers in just a few short years on the market.

“Each year there are literally hundreds of candidates for President’s Choice status,” says Mark Boudreau, director of corporate affairs for Loblaws Atlantic. “We consider each very carefully for perfect taste, appearance, premium quality and a uniqueness they offer to our Loblaws customers. Pazazz scored highly across the board and was an easy selection for us to make.”

Available now, Pazazz will be sold in 2lb special President’s Choice branded bags in select Loblaws stores while supplies last.

“This is a huge honour and we’re very excited,” says Michael Van Meekeren, co-owner of Van Meekeren Farms. “Pazazz is a young variety compared to many available today and because it’s a winter variety that peaks in flavour in the winter months, it gives apple lovers something that is very difficult to get at this time of year – a premium apple variety with that just-picked freshness.”
 
Pazazz is harvested in late October but reaches the perfect balance of sweet and tart flavours during the winter months, arriving on Loblaws and other retailer shelves in early January each year. This season the variety has shattered all retail goals and expectations.

For more information about Pazazz or Honeybear Brands visit PazazzApple.com or honeybearbrands.com.
Incredible. Unbelievable. Disneyland.
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