Mexico Market Development Mission
This year, from January 24 - 30, SaskCanola's Executive Director, Janice Tranberg, and SaskCanola Director, Lane Stockbrugger, participated in a trade mission to Mexico that travelled through Mexico City, Queretaro, Monterrey, and Guadalajara. Read Lane's blog and watch the short video below to learn about his experiences from the trip.
It's been six months since our trip to Mexico promoting canola, among other commodities and organizations, but the memories and learnings from the trip are still as vivid in my mind as ever!
On January 24, 2016, Janice Tranberg and I boarded a plane eventually bound for Mexico City - it takes a few connections. A farm boy raised on a farm outside of my hometown of Englefeld with a population hovering around 300 people, Mexico City would prove to be an absolute eye opener with a population of the City and surrounding area in excess of 22 million people - staggering! As we descended into Mexico City, the city spanned for what seemed like an eternity.
We were representing the canola industry in Saskatchewan, knowing that Mexico is a huge market for the canola that farmers like myself grow. The week of meetings and tours would prove to be a great training ground for the needs and requests of those that work in agriculture, food, and feed industries - two countries south of the Canadian border.
Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership (STEP) led this multi-commodity mission to Mexico with the overall objective to increase awareness of Western Canada as a premium supplier of flax, barley, canola, and special crops in the Mexican market for human and animal consumption, and to identify new business opportunities in the Mexican food/feed processing industry.
We quickly realized in the meetings we attended that the interest for SaskCanola was equally as strong for the Mexican animal feed and food market, often referred to as the byproduct once the delicious, healthy canola oil has been extracted from the seed. To this feed market, we focused on explaining the benefits of incorporating canola meal into feed rations. While many knew benefits existed, their interest was in further understanding and discussing sources for obtaining the canola meal for their often massive dairy businesses. They were very well educated on best practices of other dairies, such as those in California, that are often held as the model to follow.
Each day of the tour, which truly zigzagged across the beautiful and rugged landscape of Mexico, included business to business meetings and facility tours in Mexico City, Queretaro, Monterrey, and Guadalajara. We would present on the quality and quantity of canola oil produced in Western Canada and Saskatchewan, the benefits to human diets of incorporating canola oil in a coutnry with weight and diabetes concerns, and how canola meal in animal rations can be a positive alternative (working to create a market for both the oil and meal in Mexico). Following these presentations were face to face meetings with either industry groups from Mexico or individuals representing farms or businesses who want to increase their understanding and ultimately use of canola in their business. All of this was very intriguing as the positive feedback we received about canola was strong throughout the trip at each of the four cities we visited.
These discussions focused on the Mexican's ability to secure more canola, oil, and meal. There was a common thread during these meetings whereby they realize the value of canola meal for the feed (mostly dairy) industry and were looking for specific sources of the meal they could purchase. These missions initiate conversations that can hopefully lead to further partnerships.
The Mexico trade mission was an eye opener to me, as a farmer. Their knowledge and keen interest in our products was surprising to me - and it wasn't just for canola. We were accompanied by SaskFlax, Barley Council of Canada, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry employees from research & international relations, HiPro Feeds, Champion Feeds, InfraReady, AgroCorp Commodity Traders, Market Place Commodities, and SP Grain in Peace Country, BC. As the trip evolved and we learned more about eachother's areas of expertise, we were able to assist our newfound Mexican friends in determining who else from our delegation they should be in contact with.
I am a firm believer that this trip was well worth the investment of having two SaskCanola representatives attend, participate, learn, and share. Mexico is one of our largest trading partners for canola, and if they had the opportunity, they would grow this partnership even further. Through hard work, perseverance, and ongoing discussion, further development of this market is realistic and exciting for everyone involved.
I need to close this off with a mention of the unbelievable hospitality we enjoyed. At every city along the way we were greeted with such sincerity. For a country that has so little in comparison to the luxuries that we take for granted every day, they were so happy all the time. Traffic, no problem. Flight delays, whatever. When it comes to perspective, I know I learned a few things.