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Jul 15

Trade Missions: Building markets and relationships

Posted on Jul 15 By: Sydney Duhaime

Representatives from Alberta Barley, Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, Barley Council of Canada, Canadian International Grains Institute and Embassy of Canada in Japan on May 26, 2014.

Canadian agriculture depends on international trade—in fact, nine out of 10 farms across Canada rely on export markets.

With that in mind, it’s important that organizations like Alberta Barley serve current markets and work to establish relationships in new and emerging ones.

“Trade missions allow us to gain valuable knowledge about export markets and increase opportunities for farmers,” explained Alberta Barley Region One director-at-large Glenn Logan, who attended the Gulfood trade show in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in January of this year.

“Trade missions are effective because they allow representatives to gather market intelligence, identify important contacts, meet with contacts, and establish trusting relationships and long-term contracts,” added Linda Whitworth, Alberta Barley’s market development manager.

While this seems like a simple process on paper, establishing relationships and contracts with international partners takes many trips between countries and requires an effective use of limited resources. This is why Alberta Barley works to minimize trade mission costs while maximizing the opportunities for barley farmers.

Or, as Logan put it, “When we go on trade missions, we work to give barley farmers the biggest bang for their buck.”

At Alberta Barley, this is accomplished by leveraging farmer investments with funding from other resources. These valuable resources include government programs (through initiatives like Growing Forward 2’s AgriMarketing Program) and other organizations, including the Canadian International Grains Institute (Cigi).

GoBarley-Soeul-1
From left to right: Caitlan Carver, Barley Council of Canada public relations co-ordinator, Tae-Ho Lee, Jinbo International Corporation CEO, and Albert Eringfeld, Agriculture and Rural Development trade commissioner at the Seoul Food 2014 show.

For example, the AgriMarketing Program helped fund a trade mission to the Seoul Food trade show in South Korea in May 2014. This paid off, as Caitlan Carver, public relations coordinator for Alberta Barley and the Barley Council of Canada, attended the show with the aim of gathering market intelligence for barley opportunities in Korea, and likewise came away with significant contacts with industry representatives interested in importing barley.

“It takes years of work to develop those relationships,” said Carver, who has received many inquiries about Canadian barley following the trip. “This is why introductory trips like this are critical. It is so important to start early.”

Since the Seoul Food show occurred during seeding this past spring, we were not able to send a farmer representative. Thinking outside the box, Carver decided to bring the trade show back home through producing a video on-site. The video can be viewed online at GoBarley.com.

As you’ll in see in the video, now is the perfect time for Canadian organizations to invest in trade missions to emerging markets like South Korea.

With the anticipated implementation of the Canada–Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA) on the horizon, it is imperative that organizations like Alberta Barley have an established presence there. The CKFTA is expected to result in considerable benefits for the beef and pork industries. Canada’s barley industry will reap the rewards of this, as over 80 per cent of harvested barley goes toward feed production for livestock.

Canadian malting barley is also popular in Korea, and is known for its high quality.

The potential boon for the hulless or “food” barley market also makes South Korea an important destination for trade missions.

“A niche market, like barley tea, in an Asian country can become a large production opportunity for our farmers,” explained Whitworth.

“South Korea is the gateway to the rest of Asia,” added Carver. “Once a product becomes popular in South Korea, a domino effect takes place in other Asian countries where demand continues to grow.”

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Standard trade mission costs

January 2014, Gulfood show in Dubai, United Arab Emirates*

Two flights (staff member and board member) $3,900
Two per diems (includes all food and hotel costs) $5,600
Two event registrations $100
Total $9,600

March 2014, ExpoANTAD in Guadalajara, Mexico*

Two flights (staff member and board member) $1,400
Two per diems (includes all food and hotel costs) $4,000
Two event registrations $300
Total $5,700

*Alberta Barley covers half of these costs; the remainder is funded through the AgriMarketing Program.

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This article was originally published in GrainsWest magazine, Fall 2014 issue.

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