At the end of 2021, we assembled a volume of 10 articles we had published during our first quarter online. At the end of that volume, which you can find on our portal, we had also outlined our priorities going into 2022, and our intention to post more articles on a weekly basis. This current volume is a compendium of our next 10 articles, which follow the agenda we had set out for 2022-Q1. You had access to all these articles on the portal, but now you can get them in one place, under one title.
As we had stated in the first volume, we were very pleased with the response we were getting from the Prairie grain-community, with a following of more than 1000 site-visitors at the end of our first quarter online. Into 2022 our objective was to ramp this up by strengthening our case for direct-sales and containerized-exports. The content we were posting seemed to be striking a chord – 2.5-times more site-visitors into our second quarter than the first, with much deeper engagement.
As pleased as we are with our progress to date, we still have a long way to go in accomplishing our mission, as we are still at the early stages; we must go beyond just ideas or concepts to actual trade opportunities. But first, we must raise producer awareness of direct sales prospects in overseas markets, as has been the case across North America. Also, we must generate interest among importers, make them aware that we have the world’s most advanced farms from which they can buy a vast array of quality crops, and get them shipped to their doorsteps in containers.
Our agenda going into 2022-Q1 reflected these priorities and will continue along the same lines for the next two quarters. We expect these efforts to yield some direct-sales for this year’s harvest, but in a limited way, as most of those crops would have already been sold or committed by then. Our core-mission will go into high gear into the 2022-23 crop-year; in the interim, we have a lot to do to further deepen producer-engagement and extend our reach to end-markets through new channels.
Our first article this year was Recasting our Global Image, a critical challenge we face in export markets, as we are primarily known for our bulk-trades, not direct-sales. To provide more visibility into our grain-economy and extoll its virtues to a global audience, we developed a 5-prong framework – advanced-farms, research-capacity, crop-variety, quality-assurance, and logistics-services. This was primarily meant to raise awareness of this pressing imperative in institutional circles, mainly producer-associations and public-agencies, but the article generated huge interest among our portal followers at large – our most popular article to date with almost 500-reads.
With the next three articles we turned our attention to our core base, producers. First, we introduced our Farm Profile Program, giving farm-enterprises a window to promote themselves to overseas importers as primary production sources, not just collection-points of the bulk-systems. We continued down this path with a more detailed Follow-Up article on the same theme. The next article introduced our Producer Consultation Program, starting with virtual-townhalls, but to be followed by in-person-meetings (group and individual) and local-area-club initiatives.
In the next two articles we revisited some of the same themes we had touched on in our previous volume. In Further Thoughts on Bulk Trades, we addressed the global competitive environment and the risks our exports faced. The next article, Risks and Challenges of Direct Sales, was a supplement to a previous one on risk-reward trade-offs – dealing with trade-risks, grain-handling capacity, container supply, and most importantly (at least in our view) reaching out to buyers in end-markets.
In the previous six months, we had been getting a lot of questions about why we were pursuing containerized exports when there were no containers to be had in the interior. It was a legitimate question, but obviously we had thought long and hard about this and would not have embarked on this mission if we did not believe we could reposition containers inland, or at least move grains to where containers could be found. Thus, we wrote a short article on the topic, How to Alleviate the Container Supply Shortage – not surprisingly, our 2nd most popular article with 350-reads.
Having dealt with what most producers thought was the main obstacle, container-supply, we turned to export prospects. In our next article, Another Look at our Export Profile, we examined the state of wheat, canola, and pulse exports, and highlighted some of the areas where we saw the greatest potential for growth. Then we turned to The Need for More Market Research, a much-neglected domain where we need to do much more to understand grain consumption and processing trends.
Our latest article, A Case Study: Wheat Export Prospects to China, drew on a previous study we had conducted of China’s wheat-flour supply-chain, the largest of its kind in the world, rapidly changing and restructuring to present new market opportunities for our wheat exports. The original study we draw on in this article (which is also posted on our portal) had examined wheat production and consumption trends, flour industry’s modernization and restructuring, and dietary trends that were driving demand for higher quality flour-types, thus export opportunities for us.
At the end of this volume, we provide our 2022-Q2 agenda, including many more end-market studies like the one on wheat we just posted. Together with more market-research, we will give priority to two more areas. First, we must continue to deepen producer-engagement through farm-profiles and other collaborative initiatives – be it townhall, coffee-shop or one-on-one meetings. Second, we must develop the 5-prong framework to recast our image on the world-stage as the most advanced grain-growing region, where end-buyers can import from directly.