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Precision agriculture for your marketing plan

As part of their marketing program for Canadian grain, Agriprocity targets food processors in emerging markets where they can’t grow their own grain

You’ve heard of precision agriculture for growing your crop — but what about for selling it?

“We like to think of our little company as precision ag from the marketing side,” said Nicole Rogers, CEO of Agriprocity.

“We’re marketing more precisely and allowing those buyers to be more integrated.”

Agriprocity was founded 18 months ago out of a desire to address food insecurity in places like the Middle East, said Rogers, who spoke at the Tactical Farming Conference in mid-February.

“A really important part of these emerging markets is that they don’t grow anything. Being a Canadian living in Dubai, I got a different perspective on food security,” said Rogers, who grew up on a farm in Canada.

“I started Agriprocity with a view to commercialize strategies for food security and incorporate people who do good production and understand how to grow food into the supply chain in a better way.”

Agriprocity does that by allowing farmers to produce “purposefully” for buyers.

“It’s not a trading model. It’s not really about flipping a crop multiple times,” said Rogers.

“Essentially, we go out into the world and find buyers. Our buyers are somebody who takes crop and transforms it into food. Our buyers are processors — somebody who cares deeply about that crop.

“And then we go out into the world and find farms that want to produce purposefully.”

Long-term buyers

This gives farmers a long-term buyer that “exists outside their own geography” — usually in countries that can’t grow their own crops.

“We price based on a model that circumvents the commodity market and allow that farm to market-make — effectively uncommoditizing a portion of the farm by growing purposefully and strategically and with a view of some of the issues around food insecurity,” said Rogers.

“A buyer who’s captive — who cares more and has less choice — is a better long-term partner for your overall marketing plan.”

Agriprocity also finds partners to co-ordinate the logistics of transporting the grain.

“You guys are farmers. You don’t want to deal with the headache of logistics,” she said.

“So they work along the supply chain to get crop from here to there in a more strategic, well-thought-out way.”

But the real benefit to producers is in the long-term security a marketing model like this offers, she said.

“The main goal of our farms is that they want to have a steady buyer and a steady revenue stream,” she said.

“The value to a farm is it has consistency — consistent revenue, consistent communication with a buyer, and consistent planning.”

Many farmers believe that they can develop their own direct-marketing program, “and sometimes they can,” she said. “But it’s easier with a group.

“Farmers need to market themselves really well, and we’re a vehicle to do that,” said Rogers.

But in an increasingly competitive global market, it can be hard to differentiate Canadian grain that’s usually been blended by traders “to position it globally against all other grain,” she said.

“Internationally, we think we have this unbelievable reputation — that people want our grain and people want to buy Canadian. Trust me, that is not always the case,” said Rogers.

So Agriprocity shows buyers that blended grain “isn’t really what comes off a farm,” she said.

“The buyers we go after are the buyers who care about that, and the buyer who cares about that actually has a customer who directly buys that output of what they’re processing,” she said.

“For them, when they have an issue with supply, it’s devastating. They lose a customer. They lose a portion of their business.

“That’s a better buyer for a Canadian farm.”

About the author

Reporter

Jennifer Blair is a Red Deer-based reporter with a post-secondary education in professional writing and nearly 10 years of experience in corporate communications, policy development, and journalism. She's spent half of her career telling stories about an industry she loves for an audience she admires--the farmers who work every day to build a better agriculture industry in Alberta.

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