BY BRENNA MAHONEY • PHOTO COURTESY OF CEREALS CANADA
The Canadian new crop missions for the latest growing season began as farmers across the Prairies struggled to get their crops out of the field. Following such a challenging harvest, the value of these wheat marketing visits to our leading customers around the world is evermore apparent. The missions are key to build and maintain relationships with our top trade partners, including China, Colombia, Japan and Nigeria.
Representatives of Canada’s wheat value chain met with milling customers in Canada and 16 additional countries in November 2019. They continued to do so throughout January 2020. At crop mission events, wheat purchasers learned about the quality and end-use characteristics of the 2019/20 Canadian wheat crop.
The Canadian team consisted of exporters, farmers, scientists, technical experts and representatives of Cereals Canada, the Canadian Grain Commission and the Canadian International Grains Institute.
The annual seminars presented an important opportunity to build customer relationships with international buyers and support Canada’s reputation as a supplier of clean, consistent, quality wheat.
HARVEST FROM HELL
2019 proved difficult for farmers, as this crop year was truly a tale of multiple harvests. Prairie wheat harvested prior to early snowfalls is the highest of quality and is being graded No. 1 and No. 2, with high protein. When early snow arrived in September and October, crop quality was impacted. Sprouted grain produced low falling numbers and mildew became more common.
Those weather impacts subsequently decreased the performance of wheat flour in bread and noodle making. This emphasized the importance of technical experts being present on the missions. They directly communicated the adjustments required to achieve a top-quality end product.
At crop mission events, buyers heard directly from industry experts about overall crop quality, milling and baking functionality and availability. They were also given details on growing season conditions and an overview of Canadian farming practices. Every crop year is different, making such face-to-face meetings with key customers important. The missions allowed these clients to pose questions to members of the entire Canadian wheat value chain.
This unique two-way dialogue benefits both customers and the Canadian industry, helping both to understand current and future needs. Customer feedback is provided to researchers and funders to ensure future priorities will be met.
CUSTOMERS VALUE RELATIONSHIPS
Participating farmers on these missions speak to customers about what they and the Canadian farming industry are doing to ensure Canada exports top-quality wheat year after year. Canada is known for clean, consistent, quality grain, but also for its growing sustainability. The long-term use of modern farming techniques such as zero-till and low-till directly impacts the Canadian agricultural brand. Our customers look to us to tell this story directly to them as their own customers demand this information.
New crop missions are key to maintain and develop relationships with wheat buyers. These relationships become even more important when market access issues develop, and it is much easier to work through them with customers we have met face to face.