Sunday, April 6

Value Chain Development Brings Western Provinces Together

Source: Saskatchewan Agriculture and Food

Efforts to develop agri-food value chains are growing from a single province base to be delivered right across western Canada, with a new agreement between provinces.

"The Saskatchewan Agri-Food Value Chain Initiative was developed approximately seven years ago, originally funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada," says Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan (ACS) Value Chain Specialist Bryan Kosteroski. "Three years ago, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture and ACS developed the second phase of the program, which was co-funded by both levels of government."

The program delivered an educational awareness program built around learning modules on subjects such as value chain development, marketing strategies, marketing intelligence, and category management. According to Kosteroski, the program has been well received here.

"Those workshops were very well attended, with over 400 people participating over a period of about 16 months," he says. "We have 14 value chain projects either in the process of development or completed in Saskatchewan. Alberta also has a value chain program, and Manitoba just started one last December."

The new Western Canadian Value Chain Initiative arose out of discussions between representatives of the four western provinces and the federal government.

"It was decided that there should be a consistent message across western Canada," Kosteroski says. "We are interested in creating awareness of the program itself, and the various strategies being employed by the agri-food industry. Many of the concepts are about working together in areas like talking to retail buyers, developing category plans, and communicating throughout the sector to make sure producers know what's going on."

The information developed on value chains will now have consistent content and the same look across the west, with the joint effort resulting in new material being made available in Saskatchewan.

"We have just launched an Internet marketing program," says Kosteroski. "Our companies have to take a look at website development, what suits their products, and the customers they are trying to attract. We just completed some organic livestock and vegetable workshops. It gives them more awareness of what potential markets may exist for them both domestically and for export."

The new co-operation between the provinces and federal government is a sign of the growing importance of this sector.

"You have small, medium, and large companies that are becoming players in the agri-food industry in Canada, and it's not an easy game," says Kosteroski. "It takes time to get into the retail markets, up to 16 months to get a product listed and on the shelf. Producers and companies have to be prepared to work through the process, to tweak their ideas to accommodate the needs of the retailer."

Among the new workshops to be offered in the next year, there will be an emphasis on marketing education, which is seen as a knowledge gap for emerging agri-food companies.

Anyone interested in what the Western Canadian Value Chain Initiative has to offer can get that information from the Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan on their website at

For more information, contact:
Bryan Kosteroski, Value Chain Specialist
Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan
Phone: (306)975-6851
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