Monday, June 4

Saskatchewan Food Processors Association update

The Saskatchewan Food Processors Association has asked if we could post the following article:

"Saskatchewan produces some of the best food in Canada and the world. We’re known for commodities such as wheat, cereal grains, pulse crops and livestock, most of which leave provincial borders for export markets.

Locally processed food products are appearing at the wholesale and retail food levels to an extent never seen before. There are several categories of people responsible for the increase including risk-taking processors, retailers, consumers and the Saskatchewan Food Processors Association, the voice of its members since 1990.

Headquartered in Saskatoon, the Saskatchewan Food Processors Association (SFPA) is a non profit organization that works on behalf of its members. One of the SFPA’S key goals is to increase its members’ success through the “bottom line” of sales and profits.

Boosting profiles and profits is achieved through programs such as the Food Safety Quality Assurance Traceability Pilot Project funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food Saskatchewan (ACAAFS) fund. In addition to this the Sask. Made Tradeshow program and the Sask. Made Branding Program (S.M.B.P.) are funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian Adaptation of Rural Development (CARDS) fund which also assists in boosting the profile of the SFPA and its member organizations.

One of the unique projects to be developed out of the SMBP program is the Saskatchewan Made Marketplace and Consolidated shipping program. This is an incubator program where new and existing processing companies can market their products.

This project is six-fold:

1) To act as an incubator in conjunction with other organizations and facilities to bring a processor’s product from concept to reality.

2) To test market the processor’s product and provide feedback to the processor so they may make informed decisions about their products and market strategies.

3) To sell member’s products via the Marketplace and Consolidated Shipping to assist them in generating revenue.

4) To make Saskatchewan Made and the Saskatchewan Made logo recognizable for consumers and retailers and make it synonymous with quality.

5) To make the Saskmade Marketplace and Consolidated shipping self sufficient within five years of inception.

6) To continue to grow the e-commerce business.

To a large degree, S.M.B.P. is based on the conviction that when given a choice, consumers will prefer local products over products imported from outside the province and Canada.

An entrepreneur with an idea can go to the Saskatchewan Food industry Development Centre in Saskatoon, a federally inspected facility, meet with the Food Centre personnel who can assist in product development, nutritional labelling and packaging. They can also do the initial production runs at the Food Centre. The product can be test marketed and even demonstrated through the Sask. Made Marketplace. The company will be provided a report on consumer feed back as to product quality, taste, packaging and other information they require to make decisions that make their product more marketable to consumers.

The Marketplace incubator, owned and operated by SFPA, is a 5100 square foot store located at 1619 -8th Street East in Saskatoon. It boasts approximately 1,000 Made in Saskatchewan food and non-food items, including meats, baked goods, pasta, wild rice, jams and jellies, gourmet foods, gift baskets, First Nations products, handcrafts, a variety of paintings and photographs, pottery, handmade candles, CDs by Saskatchewan musicians including Brad Johner and Theresa Sokyrka as well as Great Western Brewery and Corner Gas collectibles. All of the products in the Marketplace are on consignment.

Gift baskets are also a large part of the product offering. In 2006 the Marketplace sold over 3,200 gift baskets. Gift baskets are utilized for all

occasions including holidays, conventions, meetings, speakers’ gifts and as souvenirs. Sask. Made gift baskets can also be purchased at The Marketplace or through the Sask. Made Marketplace website (www.saskmade.ca).

The number of food processors in our province continues to grow, as reflected by the SFPA’s expanding membership. “In the last three years, SPPA membership has increased from 74 to about 100. Seventy-five per cent of SFPA members are smaller processors, with less than ten employees. A good portion of them are owner-operators.

The range of food products made in Saskatchewan is also more diverse than ever. When people think ‘Sask. Made’, they think of saskatoon berry jam. But ‘Sask. Made’ also includes fish, bison and lamb. There are products made from lentils, quinoa, flaxseed, as well as gluten-free products and organically grown products.

When it comes to fruit production, the association is reporting significant growth in the production of prairie sour cherries and apples as well as our traditional saskatoon and choke cherry berries.

The Sask. Made Marketplace/Consolidated Shipping also sells wholesale to other retailers. The advantage is that we will coordinate the order for the retailer. There will be one order, one invoice, one freight bill at a very small mark-up. They’ll save on the freight and the invoicing. It’s just one more way that the SFPA help members sell their products.

In order to qualify to be part of the consolidated shipping system, a processor must meet the food safety standards, the labelling requirements and demonstrate consistent on time supply of quality products. This is another area where the Saskmade Marketplace acts as a incubator. If you cannot supply the Marketplace properly you will not be moved into the Consolidated Shipping program.

Approximately half of the SFPA members have products on display at the Sask. Made Marketplace. If a processor a member of the SFPA and you meet the labelling, nutritional and health and safety standards, you have a right to have your products in the store.

For more information contact Darrell J. Schneider at suite 107-105 North Road Saskatoon Sk. S7N 4L5 306-683-2412 or email: Schneider@sfpa.sk.ca."