‘Team Canada’ approach on new crop seminars succeeds beyond expectations

By Ellen Goodman

'Team Canada' in London, U.K: (l. to r.) Elaine Sopiwnyk, JoAnne Buth, Cigi; David Hansen, Cereals Canada; Tim Timmer, Stefan Wagener, CGC.

‘Team Canada’ in London, U.K: (l. to r.) Elaine Sopiwnyk, JoAnne Buth, Cigi; David Hansen, Cereals Canada; Kevin Bender, producer; Tim Timmer and Stefan Wagener, CGC.

The first joint effort between Cigi, Canadian Grain Commission, and Cereals Canada to discuss the new crop with customers of Canadian wheat in 20 countries around the world proved successful beyond expectations, according to Cigi representatives.

Cigi CEO JoAnne Buth and Dave Burrows, Cigi Vice President of Client Relations and Communications, were two of a number of Cigi management and technical staff participating on the new crop seminars. JoAnne travelled to Asia and the U.K and Dave, to Latin America, Middle East, and North Africa.

“We were very conscious of presenting Canada and the Canadian grain industry, in addition to providing information on wheat quality,” JoAnne says, noting positive feedback from customers who attended the seminars in record numbers. “With a ‘Team Canada’ approach we became one voice. Cereals Canada represented the industry, CGC covered the regulatory and quality side, and Cigi also provided information on quality as well as technical support.”

It was the first time Cigi worked with the CGC jointly to present the new crop data to customers. In the past the CGC and Cigi each conducted new crop seminars in different countries. Presenting as a team this time ensured all customers were receiving the same information to help with their buying decisions.

“This is better for customers who have to understand everything from grading to end product quality,” JoAnne says. “There was interest on the milling side, baking side, and in different types of products. Customers appreciated being able to talk to people who understand their business and the different products they make.” 

While Western Canada experienced a tough growing season, customers were provided assurance that higher quality grade wheat would still be available, she says, adding that transportation and logistics was also an important topic. Some discussion focussed on customer concerns about grain delivery and that changes in government regulations for railways are expected to offset delays experienced in the past.

“We were telling customers what we have from a quality perspective,” Dave adds. “For example, for durum, grades No. 1 and 2 are basically unavailable this year but protein and gluten strength were good so we showed them how they could best use No. 3 for their products.”

He says the seminars offered an opportunity to convey to customers that the Canadian value chain is working on their behalf, keeping Canadian wheat high on their list of preferred origins for purchase. “We were there to educate customers on quality of the 2014 crop overall, troubleshoot where necessary from a processing and application point of view, and keep customers apprised of what is happening with the industry in Canada. This wasn’t a sales mission but set the stage for future sales and to give the customers a sense of comfort that the decisions they made already to buy Canadian wheat and durum were the right ones.”

Several producers also played an important role in the contingent, Dave says, noting that their presentations on farming in Canada and growing conditions were well received. “Customers otherwise rarely have a chance to meet a farmer or hear firsthand about farming in Canada.”

Hear producer Greg Porozni interviewed from Tunisia on Golden West Radio.
greg porozni – north africa

The seminars were also valuable for the participating farmers to see where customers’ grain goes and how it is used, that what a farmer does on the field impacts quality, and how everyone in the value chain is responsible for protecting the Canada brand, JoAnne says.

“There are three organizations out there working with many others to protect the Canada brand. We’re doing that for the good of the industry so that at the end of the day the value goes back to the farmer.”

‘Team Canada’ is expected to meet with industry in early February to relay the results of the new crop seminars which were conducted over six weeks in November and early December in nine countries in Asia, four each in Latin America and Middle East/North Africa, and three in the European Union.

ecuador

Guayaquil, Ecuador was one of the locations visited on the new crop seminars held in Latin America.