Recent new crop missions held in 17 countries were welcomed by Canadian wheat customers in a year when wet growing and harvest conditions in Western Canada had left them uncertain about the crop quality.
“This year is an example of where we really showed the value of new crop missions because there were rumours the crop was disastrous and we were able to show that the quality was not affected by the fusarium damage,” says JoAnne Buth, Cigi CEO, of the crop quality seminars presented by Canadian industry representatives over several weeks in November and December.
“Some years may be different but this year even with fusarium it was good quality throughout the grades,” she says. “We didn’t have a lot of grades one and two, especially in durum but grades three and four in some cases were performing just as well. So in a year when the crop has been questionable it’s been most important we have had these face-to-face opportunities.”
For the third year Cigi teamed up with Cereals Canada, the Canadian Grain Commission, exporters and producers to meet with Canadian wheat customers in Asia, Latin America, Europe, North Africa and West Africa. The new crop seminars, in addition to some customer visits, were held in Japan, South Korea, China, Singapore, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Algeria, Morocco, England, Italy, Philippines, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates and Nigeria. The group started off with a seminar for millers in Canada and webinars were also presented for customers in Venezuela and Tunisia.
— Cigi (@CigiWinnipeg) December 15, 2016
News reports in some countries indicated the Canadian crop was not in good shape so customers anticipated problems, says JoAnne who travelled on the missions to Asia, Europe and North Africa. “After seeing our information, most customers agreed they could work with the crop. The issue with fusarium was that there wasn’t a very good correlation with DON levels this year and it was a challenge for exporters to meet a country’s specifications (for DON). If they could do that, then customers would be able to use that lower grade wheat quite well.”
DON or deoxynivalenol is a mycotoxin also known as vomitoxin that may be present in fusarium head blight infecting wheat or barley. 2016 western Canadian wheat crop quality information is available at www.canadianwheat.ca
Representation from various parts of the value chain on the missions was invaluable to help reassure wheat customers that the quality of the Canadian crop would meet their end-use requirements, says Dean Dias, Cigi Director of Value Chain Relations, who participated on missions to Latin America, Asia and Africa as well as meeting with millers in Mississauga. “Having this team effort and the right expertise to answer customer questions was a complete success story. We had some of the best attendance ever and the right attendees at the seminars.
“Customers also spoke about how important technical exchanges have been at Cigi and their experience using Canadian wheat which confirms the significance of the work we do to support customers throughout the year.”
JoAnne concurs with the importance of the expertise represented in the partnership on the missions, noting that customers now understand Cereals Canada is the umbrella organization that directs any customer enquiries, CGC handles regulatory questions and Cigi provides support related to end-use functionality. Exporters and farmers also have significant roles on the missions.
“This year there was a focus on the farmers and sustainability which is becoming a worldwide issue,” she says. “There were more questions about storage and farm management practices including how farmers manage fusarium. It gives the customer more confidence when the entire value chain is there and the farmer is saying managing fusarium is important because it impacts his bottom line and it benefits everybody to do the best he can.”
Saskatchewan farmer Lane Stockbrugger who participated on the mission to Europe and North Africa highlighted his experience in a recent editorial, From a Saskatchewan Farm to International Customers, stating that its value was made evident by customer questions and concerns about the quality of Canadian wheat in a tough growing season.
“It was our chance to correct any misinformation they had, and to share the whole story about the quality that would be available for their import needs,” wrote Lane in the editorial. “Questions about glyphosate and how we use it on the farm were valuable to hear and even more importantly the ability to respond firsthand and explain how we use herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides to produce the quality product customers have come to expect from Canada. These discussions during the missions help build new business relationships and strengthen existing ones, which frankly is ever important to this Canadian farmer if we intend to maintain and grow our position in these markets.”
Listen below to interviews with Alberta producer Kevin Bender and Cereals Canada President Cam Dahl on the new crop missions, courtesy of Golden West Radio:
Kevin Bender Dec 12th
Cam Dahl Dec 28th