BY ELLEN PRUDEN • PHOTO COURTESY OF CEREALS CANADA
For more than 20 years, Cereals Canada has welcomed farmers from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba to its Winnipeg headquarters for its annual Combine to Customer program. The exception was 2021 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced its cancellation. These two-and-a-half-day information sessions on the needs of global grain customers and the operation of the cereals value chain will once again be held in-person throughout February and March. Nominated by individual crop commissions, 18 farmers will attend the 2022 sessions.
In classroom presentations, participants will receive a broad overview of grain industry operations. Topics will include, the workings of the Canadian Grain Commission grading and the quality assurance system and the development and registration process for new varieties. Also addressed will be the performance of Canadian wheat in food production, its uses by global customers, why customers prefer it to that of other countries and how Cereals Canada technical experts provide market support. Additionally, hands-on technology demonstrations will be presented in the Cereals Canada analytical services lab, pilot mill, pilot bakery, pasta plant and noodle lab.
“The Combine to Customer program offers the opportunity for learning, dialogue and engagement to take place with growers,” said Lisa Nemeth, director of market support and training. “We are excited to welcome growers back to in-person opportunities at Cereals Canada.”
One of the primary outreach activities Cereals Canada conducts on behalf of the Canadian cereals value chain is the annual new crop sessions, presented each November and December. These presentations to international grain customers are typically held in-person, but were presented as webinars in 2020 and 2021. While the sessions share the year’s wheat crop quality information with customers, the Combine to Customer program in turn shares the needs and wants of the marketplace with farmers.
“Connecting the value chain from farmer to customer is what we do at Cereals Canada,” said CEO Dean Dias. “From new crop sessions and Combine to Customer, growers are an integral part of these conversations. Customers want to know from farmers about the growing season, harvest and conditions for growing wheat on their farms.” While every grain farmer can’t participate in new crop sessions, the Combine to Customer program allows them to offer information and insights that contribute to Cereals Canada’s year-round outreach and activities. “It’s important to connect the Canadian value chain to the needs of our global customers,” said Dias. “The Combine to Customer program allows us to engage with the growers and discuss market access issues, consumer and customer demand and how decisions made on the farm create value for the customer.”
“I found the program to be informative and a great experience as it connects the whole value chain from what I grow on my farm to what the customers value when it comes to buying Canadian wheat,” said Todd Hames, Cereals Canada chair and a Combine to Customer alumni.
Though the 2022 application deadline has passed, farmers are eligible to apply for Combine to Customer nominations for the 2023 sessions. For more information, contact Brian Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or Chloe Wolstencroft at email@example.com.