Business/Policy
Creating marketing campaigns for your business that also raise awareness for a social injustice or issue has become more and more commonplace in the last few years.
Published in Marketing
Guelph, Ont. – The Agri-Food Management Institute (AMI) recently launched 'The Food Entrepreneur’s Journey’, to help budding food manufacturers with practical step-by-step advice on how to build a thriving business from idea to commercialization.

“There are many opportunities in Ontario’s food industry, but it’s tough to break into and tougher to succeed,” said AMI executive director Ashley Honsberger. “To ease the process, we’re offering this free guide that’s full of tips on business planning, avoiding pitfalls and finding the resources that are available to assist entrepreneurs along the way.”

The guide takes the reader through all the activities that need to be performed in five basic stages: idea, proof of concept, product and business development, pre-commercial trials and sales, and finally commercial sales.

Included are knowledge and experiences words of wisdom from product developers, chefs and other industry experts as well as owners who have already gone through the experience of starting up. Fran Kruz, chief executive officer (CEO) and founder of Not Yer Granny’s Granola, in Barrie, described her process. “This is not a linear model – at least not in my experience. The process continues to be very organic, multi-directional, and in some cases, it’s one step forward and two steps to one side, three to the other side, one back and a leap forward... I guess you could call it a dance!”

A Food Entrepreneur’s Journey was also developed as a source of food industry information for advisory staff in federal, provincial, municipal and other organizations that help business start-ups across the province.

The guide is now available online at the AMI’s website: https://takeanewapproach.ca/news and will be available at trade shows throughout the year.

The Agri-Food Management Institute promotes new ways of thinking about agribusiness management and aims to increase awareness, understanding and adoption of beneficial business management practices by Ontario agri-food and agri-based producers and processors. AMI is funded by Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.
Published in Provinces
Apple, cherry and other tree fruit growers throughout British Columbia will be able to update aging equipment and infrastructure while increasing their marketing and research efforts thanks to a new $5-million Tree Fruit Competitiveness Fund announced recently.
Published in Provinces
Three Alberta companies and one association participated in the Seed Potato Trade Mission to Thailand from November 19 to 27, 2017. The Companies included Haarsma Farms, Parkland Seed Potatoes, Sunnycrest Seed Potatoes, and the Potato Growers of Alberta.

Participants met with importers, distributors, and potential customers in Bangkok, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, Thailand. They also toured local potato farm operations.

“This was the first market development mission focused on seed potato suppliers to Thailand since Alberta was granted market access last year,” says Rachel Luo, senior trade and relations officer with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “Alberta seed potato companies pushed to make this mission a reality, and all the companies expect to generate new sales.”

“We expect to be exporting Alberta seed potatoes by 2019 starting with a trial order,” says Kirby Sawatzky with Parkland Seed Potatoes. “We made excellent connections with two major seed potato importers.”

The Alberta delegation met with PepsiCo and toured its potato chip factory and contracted farm. The group also met with BJC Foods and toured its storage facilities and contracted potato farm. The Thai importers made it clear that the opportunities for Alberta seed potatoes were positive due to the hearty nature of Alberta’s seed potato varieties.

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry collaborated with the Canadian Embassy in Thailand to organize this mission to Thailand.

For more information on the South East Asia market, contact Rachel Luo, senior trade and relations officer with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry at 780-422-7102.
Published in Provinces
Cargill recently announced it has reached an agreement on the sale of Cargill's grain and crop inputs retail assets in Ontario, including its ownership in South West Ag Partners, to La Coop fédérée, an agri-food cooperative with operations across Canada.

The sale comprises 13 grain assets and crop inputs retail assets, and Cargill's 50 per cent share of South West Ag Partners, a joint venture which includes nine grain and crop inputs facilities in Ontario.

The sale does not include the Cargill export terminal in Sarnia, or the AgResource crop inputs wholesale business. All other Cargill grain and crop inputs assets in Canada and all other Cargill businesses in Ontario or throughout Canada are not included in the sale agreement.

Terms of the pending sale are not being disclosed. Finalization of the transaction will take place upon the completion of definitive agreements and any required regulatory reviews, which are expected the second quarter of the calendar year.

"Cargill continually evaluates its assets to ensure its sites are operating efficiently and are competitive in the areas it serves," said Dave Baudler, managing director for Cargill's grain business. "After an in-depth evaluation of our grain and crop inputs businesses in Ontario, we came to the conclusion that a sale of those assets was the best path forward to remain competitive and deliver on our growth strategy. La Coop fédérée was the buyer of choice to ensure a smooth transition for employees and customers."

"Our Agromart retail network and LCF grain trading businesses have been growing steadily in recent years and the addition of these facilities will be a complementary fit to existing operations in Ontario, which already include four crop input terminals, 16 locally-owned joint-venture retailers and a grain trading group," added Sébastien Léveillé, executive agribusiness vice-president for La Coop fédérée.

Glenn Houser, managing director for Cargill's crop inputs business, reiterated Cargill's dedication to its growers and customers. "Cargill remains committed to helping Canadian growers and agricultural producers succeed," said Houser. "We will maintain the operation of 40 crop inputs retail locations, 26 elevator assets, five export terminals, and two oilseed processing facilities to serve growers throughout the country."

"We are confident that existing customers will benefit greatly from our experience and expertise in providing crop input, grain handling and merchandising services in the region, and from having access to a broad agribusiness retail network that reaches well beyond Ontario, with over a hundred affiliated locations across Canada," added Sébastien Léveillé.

"South West Ag Partners continually looks for opportunities to ensure its business is operating efficiently and is aligned to meet the needs of our customer," said Paul Hazzard, general manager for South West Ag Partners Inc. "Working with La Coop fédérée will, without a doubt bring new opportunities to our customers," he added.

Facilities included in the sale to La Coop fédérée are:
  • Cargill grain: Melbourne; Princeton; Shetland; Staples; Talbotville
  • Cargill crop inputs: Alliston; Clinton; Courtland; Harriston; Harrow; Melbourne; Mount Albert; Princeton; Shetland; Talbotville; Tilbury; Waterford
  • South West Ag Partners grain: Becher; Grande Pointe; Palmerston Grain; Rutherford; Tupperville; Wallaceburg; all grain satellite relationships
  • South West Ag Partners crop inputs: Becher; Dover; Eberts; Ridgetown; Rutherford
Published in Companies
A bold orange border marked the roadside stand of Two EE’s Farm Market in the early days – the same bright identifier still seen on the building today. For many in the community of Surrey, B.C., Two EE’s, and the Schoen family that owns and operates the market, has remained a landmark, even as the community around it changed and underwent mass development.
Published in Profiles
Nearly two years after its parent company, Kubota Corporation, acquired the five divisions of Great Plains Manufacturing Inc., including several facilities in Kansas, Kubota Canada Ltd. (KCL) is pleased to announce it has taken over the distribution of Great Plains equipment from La Coop fédérée for Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

As it did with Land Pride in 2017, KCL is thrilled to now be able to offer innovative, durable and high-performance Great Plains equipment to farmers across Quebec and Atlantic Canada at their local Kubota dealerships.

“Everything we’ve done over the past years has been geared towards customer satisfaction and brand loyalty,” said Bob Hickey, president of KCL. “That’s what drove us to not only expand our product line through acquisitions such as Great Plains Manufacturing, but also invest in our distribution network, so that current and potential clients could access an expanded range of high-quality products when the time came to invest in their farm equipment.”

Published in Companies
I had just settled comfortably into my office chair to wax poetic about the Red Delicious apple when disaster struck – someone beat me to it.
Published in Fruit
David Pratt, formerly of Michigan Sugar Company and Michigan State University recently joined Vive Crop Protection as a technical sales associate.

In the technical sales associate role, Pratt will work with cutting-edge crop protection products in sugar beets and potatoes, managing field trials and presenting information to farmers to help increase profitability on their farms.

Pratt holds a Masters in Science, Agronomy from Michigan State University and his focus will be on AZteroid FC fungicide and Bifender FC insecticide, as well as demonstrating three new products launching in 2019 for potato and sugar beet growers.

AZteroid FC provides excellent disease control and plant health benefits while Bifender FC controls important below-ground insects including rootworm and wireworm. Both products can be mixed in the tank with starter fertilizer, saving farmers money, time and hassle.

Dr. Darren Anderson, President of Vive Crop Protection says, “David’s background in both university and private industry research will help potato and sugarbeet growers to get the best from our products, and will also help us develop new solutions for those customers.”
Published in Companies
BASF is in exclusive talks to acquire Bayer’s entire vegetable seeds business, operating under the global trademark Nunhems.

Bayer intends to divest this business in the context of its planned acquisition of Monsanto. Definitive agreements have not been concluded. With this transaction, BASF targets to enhance its future seed platform and the market position of its Agricultural Solutions business.

On October 13, 2017, BASF signed an agreement to acquire significant parts of Bayer’s seed and non-selective herbicide businesses.

The all-cash purchase price is €5.9 billion, subject to certain adjustments at closing. The assets to be acquired include Bayer’s global glufosinate-ammonium non-selective herbicide business as well as its seed businesses for key row crops in select markets: canola hybrids in North America under the InVigor brand using the LibertyLink trait technology, oilseed rape mainly in European markets, cotton in the Americas and Europe as well as soybean in the Americas. The transaction also includes Bayer’s trait research and breeding capabilities for these crops and the LibertyLink trait and trademark.

This acquisition complements BASF’s crop protection business and marks its entry into the seed business with proprietary assets in key agricultural markets.
Published in Companies
Small and medium-sized agricultural operations in P.E.I. must adopt innovative solutions to compete in export markets and improve opportunities for employment in rural areas. That is why the Government of Canada is supporting facility upgrades at Thompson Potato Company Inc., to increase its processing capacity and extend the packing season, creating longer term employment for staff while supporting local potato growers.

The Honourable Wayne Easter, Member of Parliament for Malpeque, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), today announced federal support to expand the processing facility at Thompson Potato Company.

A repayable contribution of $350,000, provided through ACOA’s Business Development Program, will help the company build a new state-of-the-art ventilated storage expansion onto its facility in Victoria, and install optical sorting equipment.

This investment builds on commitments made by the Government of Canada and the four Atlantic provinces to drive economic growth in the region through the Atlantic Growth Strategy, which supports strategic investments in initiatives that build on the region’s competitive advantages, such as its thriving agriculture industry, strong export potential, growing innovation network, and skilled workforce.

“The storage upgrades and new optical equipment are essential to our plan for long-term, sustainable growth at Thompson Potato, and we are grateful for the repayable support from ACOA that helps us to make these investments now. The latest steps give us the capacity to better serve growers across PEI, access new export markets, and expand employment opportunities with our company,” said Wayne Thompson, Thompson Potato Company Inc.
Published in Companies
Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. (OSF), the developer of the Arctic apple varieties, announced the promotion of Jenn Armen to vice president. Armen has been with OSF since 2010 in a multitude of capacities and has been overseeing business development and marketing activities for the company.

"As OSF continues to grow at a rapid pace we felt it was necessary to expand the executive team, and Jenn has certainly proven herself to be an integral part of our company over the years," states Neal Carter, president and founder of OSF. "It’s extremely exciting to see the company grow like this and I am very certain of our business success with the strong leadership team we have in place."

Armen, a 30-year veteran in the specialty crops arena, was an integral part of the commercialization efforts of Arctic Golden apples in select U.S. supermarkets this past fall. Her extensive career has included working in crop protection to develop the first commercially introduced biological control product for the post harvest industry, managing food safety and quality assurance programs for produce and specialty foods, and working in the vegetable seed industry on products that garnered attention from the entire supply chain about the value of genetics. Armen, who is a trained botanist, mycologist and plant pathologist, also ran her own consulting company for a number of years.

"I look forward to continuing our production and commercialization efforts with Arctic apples and develop creative ways to improve the produce experience," explained Armen. "I am honored to work with such a highly skilled team."
Published in Companies
March 5, 2018, Kentville, NS – Perennia Food and Agriculture Inc is pleased to announce Dr. Viliam Zvalo is its new chief executive officer.

Dr. Zvalo joins Perennia from Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Vineland, Ont., where he has led their world crop program since 2014. Under his leadership, non-traditional crops such as okra, Chinese long and Indian round eggplant have began to find ground on Canadian farms. Prior to his time at Vineland, he was a team lead and senior specialist for 13 years at Perennia, focusing on all vegetables crops. At the beginning of his professional career, he worked in Canada’s biotechnology and agricultural chemical industry, which helped him gain a better understanding of the private sector research and development environment.

"The board of directors is very pleased to welcome Viliam back to Perennia in this new capacity," says Perennia Chairman Charles Keddy of Keddy Nursery in Kentville, NS. "He brings a wealth of agricultural, research and business experience and leadership, and has a keen interest in Nova Scotia's fisheries sector and working with industry and the Perennia team to create more wealth for clients."

Dr. Zvalo has a PhD in plant physiology/soil ecology and an executive MBA from St. Mary's University. He has travelled extensively and has built successful partnerships working with growers, suppliers and technology providers and many agriculture development agencies locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

"I am very excited to be returning to Perennia is this new position and to work with such a professional and accomplished team,” says Dr. Zvalo. “It is awesome to be coming back to Nova Scotia and to support the growth of these two important sectors.”

Perennia also announced the appointment of Lynne Godlien as its new chief operating officer. Godlien has been at the helm of Perennia as interim CEO for the past year and has been with the company in progressively senior positions since 2001, most recently as director of marketing and communications.

"The board is confident this new senior management team will do great work with the team, board and partners to create tangible results for our agriculture and seafood clients," says Keddy.

Dr. Zvalo will start as CEO in April 4, 2018. Until that time, Godlien will continue as interim CEO.
Published in Companies
February 28, 2018, Toronto, Ont – Ontario’s new minimum wage is affecting the city’s entire food industry.

On Jan. 1 the province’s minimum wage rose to $14 an hour, after increasing to $11.25 an hour last April. READ MORE
Published in Provinces
February 26, 2018, Osoyoos, BC – Pinder Dhaliwal always knew that the farm was his home no matter what career he chose to follow.

And that’s exactly what the new president of the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association fell back on after exploring several jobs in his youth.

The 48-year-old farmer from Oliver was recently elected to take over the helm of the BCFGA after former president Fred Steele stepped down. READ MORE
Published in Associations
February 23, 2018, Niagara Falls, Ont – Apple and lavender grower Harold Schooley and crop protection specialist Craig Hunter are the winners of the 2018 Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) Industry Award of Merit.

It’s the first time in the organization’s history that two winners were selected in the same year. The awards were presented recently at the OFVGA annual banquet in Niagara Falls.

Schooley has farmed in Norfolk County since the mid-1970s, growing apples and more recently adding lavender production to his family’s operation. He joined the OFVGA board of directors as chair of the research section in 2004, a role he has held until the section was retired this year.

“Growers rely on research to help advance the industry and we appreciate Harold’s many years of service on our behalf to ensure we get the research we need to grow our markets and maintain our competitiveness,” says Jan VanderHout, OFVGA chair. “Harold’s insights and expertise have been valued additions, both to our board table and to the fruit and vegetable industry as a whole.”

During his tenure as research section chair, Schooley reviewed hundreds of research proposals for industry relevance, attended countless research-related meetings and events, and represented the grower viewpoint during research priority setting exercises. He is a board member and past chair of Ontario Agri-Food Technologies, an active member of the Norfolk Fruit Growers, and was previously involved with the now-defunct Ontario Apple Marketing Commission.

Schooley is also a past recipient of the Golden Apple Award, which recognizes individuals for outstanding contributions to the apple industry. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture and a Masters’ in Plant Pathology, both from the University of Guelph, and lives with his wife Jan on their third generation family orchard near Simcoe.

Hunter has dedicated his career to crop protection, spending 30 years with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) before joining the OFVGA to work on behalf of horticulture growers and becoming an industry-renowned expert in the process.

“As growers we’ve been very fortunate to have Craig’s skills and expertise at our disposal to help ensure access to new crop protection materials and keep old ones available,” says Charles Stevens, OFVGA crop protection chair. “He is a valued and respected resource in global crop protection circles and his efforts on behalf of growers have been invaluable to our industry.”

Hunter helped establish the Pest Management Centre in 2003, Canada’s hub for improving access to newer, safer pesticides as well as promoting novel production practices that reduce agriculture’s reliance on pesticides, and was also instrumental in helping start the Ontario Pesticide Education Program more than 30 years ago.

He’s the longest serving member of the provincial Ontario Pesticide Advisory Committee, chairs the national Minor Use Priority Setting meetings, and is a driving force behind the Global Minor Use Summits that are working towards global registration for crop protection products. Hunter lives in Simcoe with his wife, Jane, and is a graduate of the University of Guelph, holding a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and a Masters’ in Environmental Biology.

The OFVGA Award of Merit is presented annually to an individual or an organization that has made outstanding contributions to the fruit and vegetable industry.
Published in Associations
February 23, 2018, Niagara Falls, Ont – The chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association expects labour, energy and trade to be the discussion points this year in the horticulture industry.

The association held its annual general meeting in Niagara Falls this week.

And greenhouse vegetable grower Jan VanderHout will serve another one-year term as chair of the OFVGA. READ MORE
Published in Associations
February 22, 2018, Niagara Falls, Ont – The Canadian Government recently announced an investment of more than $175,000 to the Fruit and Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC) in providing services to Canadian buyers and sellers of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The announcement was made during the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Convention in Niagara Falls.

The DRC, which acts as a third party financial dispute resolution body for fruit and vegetable growers, received an investment of $118,795 to deliver an outreach and education initiative on the impending Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and regulations. An additional $58,807 was provided under the same program to support the industry to initiate work toward updating the Canadian grade standards for fresh fruits and vegetables in order to reflect current market and consumer preferences.

"We are very pleased the Government of Canada has provided support to the fruit and vegetable sector for the DRC’s role in the trade and commerce portion of the SFCA as well as modernization of the Grade Standards Compendium for fresh fruit and vegetables,” said Fred Webber, president and CEO of the DRC. “The playing field will be truly leveled when everyone knows the rights and responsibilities associated with the proposed regulatory requirement for a DRC membership. Furthermore, the grade standards play an essential role in evaluating and resolving grade and condition disputes fairly and efficiently.”

"This investment will help provide clarity and confidence to farmers across Canada and ensure Canada continues to produce the same high quality fruit and vegetables to Canadians and the world," added Rebecca Lee, executive director of the Canadian Horticultural Council.
Published in Federal
February 20, 2018, Kelowna, BC – B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham offered some hope of relief for Okanagan fruit growers concerning the minimum wage increases.

Popham said she has heard “loud and clear” about the concerns of the minimum wage being increased beyond $15/hour as of June 2021. READ MORE
Published in Provinces
February 20, 2018, Victoria, BC – Apple, cherry and other tree fruit growers throughout the province will be able to update aging equipment and infrastructure while increasing their marketing and research efforts thanks to a new $5-million Tree Fruit Competitiveness Fund announced recently at the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association annual general meeting.

The fund will be open to tree fruit growers, producers, and processors to support three key areas of priority:
  • Research: cultivar, disease and pest research.
  • Marketing: export market opportunities and market development research.
  • Infrastructure: sector-based infrastructure modernization such as new equipment.
“This funding is so important to the future of our industry,” said Fred Steele, outgoing president of the B.C. Fruit Growers Association. “We need help controlling new invasive pests like the brown marmorated stinkbug, and marketing is an area where we need to invest in new varieties.”

“This funding will also help with our very successful replant program. This investment, at a time when we are challenged in the marketplace, will ensure that we continue to make progress that leads to a bright future for the tree fruit sector.”

Portions of the fund can also be used to address any oversubscription of the B.C. government’s Tree Fruit Replant Program over the next four years. This year, the province provided an additional $300,000 in funding for the replant program, to meet the demand from tree fruit growers.

“This fund will help family-run orchards and the sector as a whole with advancements that make B.C. tree fruit more competitive in the marketplace,” said Agriculture Minister Lana Popham. “The $5-million investment reflects this government’s commitment to partner with B.C. growers to help modernize their practices, and help them share their great-tasting apples, cherries and other fruits, with more customers here at home and around the world.”

The B.C. government will be engaging with the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association and other partners to set up the fund and establish the process for awarding funding. It is anticipated the fund will be active for the next three to four years.
Published in Provinces
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