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New Interprovincial Initiative Focuses on Value Chain Development and Awareness

by 5m Editor
7 January 2008, at 9:26am

CANADA - Agriculture councils from the four western provinces have joined forces to form the “Western Canadian Value Chain Initiative.“

The new partnership, which includes the Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council, the Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan, the Alberta Agriculture and Food Council, the British Columbia Investment Agriculture Foundation, and the provincial governments of all four western provinces, will focus on the development of value chains across borders.

Value Chains Focus on Consumer Driven Product Development

“A value chain is market focused demand driven, rather than a traditional supply driven process, in which producers and or business enterprises collaborate to develop a value added product,” explains Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan value chain specialist Bryan Kosteroski.

The goal of the Western Canadian Value Chain Initiative is to expand the value adding of products that consumers and retailers are looking for.

“In a value chain, we’ll talk to retailers and buyers in Canada and the U.S. and ask them what they’re looking for so we can come back to our value chains and say this is what this retailer and the consumer is looking for so let’s see if we can develop this product for this market,” says Kosteroski.

Initiative Builds on Successful Provincial Programs

The new initiative builds on successful agri-food value chain initiatives that have been developed by the individual provincial agriculture councils.

“Each Council, MRAC included, delivers a funding program called the Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food program,” notes MRAC Value Chain Coordinator Kristin Yaworski-Lowdon.

“That’s a national program that we administer that will assist value chain development activities. We deliver it on behalf of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada so we do have a funding program in place to assist in funding certain projects and product development.”

Main Goals Include Value Chain Development and Awareness

The interprovincial initiative has two main goals: to increase awareness of value chain development and what value chains are; and to assist in the development of value chains across borders.

Workshops Provide Educational Component

Yaworski-Lowdon notes a series of workshops is now being offered across western Canada to provide the tools and new information participants would need to develop their own value chains.

Kosteroski adds the one-day workshops are broken into six modules.

“Modules one and two are more into the value chain development planning...understanding the value chain concepts. Module three is marketing intelligence. That’s gathering and planning for new product introductions and or development. We sent out the groups into the retail stores to look at products on the shelf and how they’re packaged and what the ingredients are. Another module is how to approach retailers and buyers in developing a category plan to present products to retailers. Module five is understanding category management which is huge in industry. You’ve got to know where you’re going in the store, what category you’re going into, what price points you’ve got to be at. Module six looks at the product development strategy overall from A to Z. This educational awareness component of six modules really helps the agri-food industry understand the development of value added products.”

Initiative Offers Broad Based Eligibility

Yaworski-Lowdon notes the program is open to anyone.

“It can be farmers, processors, marketers, organizations, or any broad spectrum of

people who are involved in a food supply chain. Any new product development activities would be eligible for funding under the new initiative.”

She explains usually value chains will start at a concept or idea stage and there will be a lot of market development activities that will be required before a new product is launched. Value chains will link producers with processors and retailers and even people in the food service industry to try to get everyone to work together and collaborate to bring new products forward and access new markets.

Kosteroski adds participation would include producer groups, small businesses, mid-size businesses who are looking to collaborate with people in industry looking to develop strategies to go to retail and to food service in Canada and or around the world. It provides more opportunities for people to be involved in a process.

Concept Still New But Gaining in Popularity

Yaworski-Lowdon acknowledges, “The value chain concept, while it’s relatively new to the Canadian agriculture and food sector, is gaining a lot of interest due to its proven success around the world.”

Kosteroski agrees, “In the past five years value chain awareness has become more prominent, more of a forefront, in the agri-food industry.”

He says, by dealing with buyers directly you’re going to compile a lot of information from the retailer buyers and then develop a product according to what they’re looking for.

“It’s kind of a different concept. We’re doing a lot of intelligence, looking around at industry, what’s going on, what the trends are and developing a product around that information.”

“It’s a very new innovate way of working with industry and the retail sector and food service sector in developing products that are required within that industry.”

Information Available through Agriculture Council Web Sites

Additional information can be obtained through any of the provincial agriculture council web sites.

Kosteroski notes all four provinces have value chain representatives and they have associated funding programs within the value chain program. They’re contact information can be found on the associated web sites within each province.

Information for the Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council can be found at www.mrac.ca, the Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan web site is located at www.sccd.sk.ca, the Alberta Agriculture and Food Council web site can be accessed at www.agfoodcouncil.com and the British Columbia Investment Agriculture Foundation web site is located at www.iafbc.ca.

5m Editor