Every year for the past 30 years, Roger Peters of Red Deer has made the trek to Edmonton in November to promote his export company, Peterosa Exports, to an international audience at Farmfair International.
This year will be no exception. For Peters, who specializes in selling to the Mexican market, the reasons are simple.
“It’s all under one roof — that’s No. 1,” said Peters, whose company co-sponsors the show’s international room. “The quality of the purebred livestock on display is the best in Canada, if not North America. You see all the breeds in comfortable surroundings.”
Now in its 42nd year, Farmfair International is set to go at Northlands’ Edmonton EXPO Centre Nov. 11-15. Billed as one of Canada’s top agricultural shows, the event attracts cattle buyers and sellers from all over Canada and the globe and features a wide range of exhibitions and agriculture-focused activities.
Perhaps one of the show’s biggest draws is its international marketing program. This year Farmfair is hosting representatives of about 50 organizations from 11 countries in the buyer’s group, said Stacy Felkar, international marketing manager of signature events at Northlands.
“Our international program is growing year after year. Since 2010, when we changed to the current format, we’ve seen millions of dollars in livestock and genetics sold. We usually see around $1 million in sales every year. Overall year after year we’ve had a steady increase of inquiries into the program.”
The inbound buyer program, a show mainstay since 2010, teams Farmfair reps with Canadian breeders and genetics companies to help buyers from around the world travel to the show. It offers customized support to these buyers as well as a farm and industry tour day, invitations to special beef-related events, and pre- and post-show tour support.
New registrants this year include buyers from Finland and Ireland, although unregistered delegates from both those countries have visited Farmfair before
“The others include Colombia, the U.S., the U.K., Kazakhstan, Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, Australia and Norway,” said Felkar. “The inbound program is mainly focused on the purebred beef cattle side of things, but we’ve had some diversification into livestock equipment as well as dairy genetics.”
Attracting new international delegates to the show is a year-round process, and includes assigning ambassadors to key markets around the world.
“Sometimes they’re beef producers, sometimes they’re agricultural consultants; they’re people connected to industries within their countries. Throughout the year they promote Farmfair International as a destination for connecting with Canadian livestock and genetics.”
Farmfair representatives and Canadian marketers also go abroad to promote the show and the Canadian beef industry. This group of delegates recently returned from the World Angus Secretariat in Mexico.
“We’ve already started the preliminary planning for next year’s mission to the Royal Easter Show in Australia,” said Felkar. “We have to have the ball rolling because it’s going to be a spring mission.”
Peters, one of this year’s delegates to Mexico, said the country is a growth market for Canada.
“They like the people,” he said. “Farmfair is a place to show the people down south what we have.”
The show also features a strong domestic program, one that possibly surpasses the international action in terms of sales, said Felkar.
“However, we don’t have those numbers tracked because those are direct sales that we don’t have any way of capturing in terms of data.”
Farmfair also has a new tool this year to help buyers and sellers connect. The Exhibitor is a digital and print catalogue featuring beef cattle exhibitors and where they can be found in the barns. The digital version can be found at www.farmfairinternational.com and copies of the print version will be available at the show.
“The catalogue gives our exhibitors the opportunity to take out economically feasible ad space in order to attract commercial cattlemen to their stalls in the barn,” said Felkar. “Say you liked the look of the cattle from a given farm in an ad, with the catalogue you’ll be able to pinpoint where they are in the barn.”
Along with cattle exhibitions, equine events, competitions and special events, the Canadian Finals Rodeo at neighbouring Rexall Place runs concurrently with the show.