Aerial View of Containers

Supply Chain Trends

Some crops find their way from farms to kitchens (domestic or commercial) with little processing involved along the way, as is the case for many pulses (lentils or peas). At source these types of crops require only limited handling (cleaning and grading) but before they reach final consumers or end-users, wholesalers and retailers get involved in the act. In our capacity in facilitating direct-sales, we need to understand these distribution-trails and target our efforts accordingly -- like AGT does so successfully with a local partner specializing in pulses in the Middle East.

Other non-bulk exports that lend themselves to direct-sales are feed-mixes that contain multiple crops (sometimes with additives and supplements) destined to feed-lots on local feed-company’s account -- sounds like a limited niche market but involves huge volumes. Similarly, there are opportunities to export breakfast-cereal mixes, typically raw crop-blends that may require some additives (nutritional or to cater to local-tastes) but can be made market-ready with grading and cleaning to edible-standards -- packaged prior to containerization or at final distribution-points.

 

Moving on to crops that require more processing along their supply-chains, we already mentioned our previous efforts in China’s vast flour-market. This industry is still consolidating in the hands of three major millers (one state-owned and two private, one local and another Singaporean). At their mega-mills (2000-5000 T/day, with more than 300 of them) they need high-grade wheat in small quantities (still multiple containers a week at each mill) to blend with wheat-varieties from local sources -- specific grades of wheat, sourced, graded, bagged and shipped identity-preserved.

As evident from these few examples, all crops one way or the other find their way from farm-gates to consumers; what varies are the handling, processing and final distribution requirements. Our trade-facilitation role is to find the best point to execute direct-sales, in the best possible terms for our producers. This in turn puts the burden on our platform to carry out the necessary market-research to understand the dynamics of the supply-chains we are targeting to sell Prairie crops -- a very different research focus than conducting high-level-analysis on trade-volumes or crop-prices.

Direct-sales driven by supply-chains

In grain-economies dominated by bulk systems, like ours to date (at least pre-pulse days), sales are in the hands of grain-companies -- they buy from producers and sell to end-users (or wholesalers).  As direct-sales and containerized-logistics channels develop, new horizons open up for producers to increase their margins.

But this comes with new burdens, mainly more in-depth market research and analysis.  In order to identify new opportunities and capitalize on them, more effort has to be made to understand not only buyer-needs but also the structure and dynamics of the supply-chains those buyers operate in -- thus our portal's focus on supply-chains.