Around corners

Futurist Bob Treadway encourages farmers to pay attention to people and politics and markets and technology so they can “see around the corner” for events or shifts that could dramatically change the business environment. The key, Treadway says, is to see what might be coming and have the business nimble and flexible to adapt.

Export markets change. Consumer tastes and values change. Government policies change. Crop production practices change. And with all that change comes opportunity. This issue of Canola Digest is full of information on canola market growth opportunities, including protein, meal and biofuels, and on crop marketing challenges.

Keith Fournier provides a real Treadway-esque response to the farmer panel topic in this issue. The panelists were asked to share something about their farm and their business philosophy that they think consumers should know. Fournier’s response: “Different consumers have different ideas on how they want their food raised or the ingredients used. That includes plant-based protein burgers,” he says. “I have no resentment against consumers for buying food that fits their values, and I will change as demand changes if it’s the right move for my business.”

Will plant-based burgers stay on fast-food menus? Who knows. But there is a new emphasis on pulses and soy protein and even canola protein for all sorts of food uses.

Lynn Weaver, in her update on Canada’s new Food Guide, says the emphasis on plant-based protein is one her top five highlights. She says the trend was already well established and will continue to move upward in Canada, the U.S. and around the world.

On the plant-based protein them, Merit Functional Foods has started construction on its pea and canola protein isolates plant in Winnipeg. Burcon NutraScience, a global technology leader in the development of plant-based proteins, is a partner in the project.

What productivity challenges are around the corner? Is clubroot around the corner? For many farmers, the canola disease is already in plain sight, a big boulder on the path. The CCC agronomy team, in its Agronomy Insights, emphasize the importance of getting ahead of this disease. “We want growers to use clubroot-resistant (CR) varieties before clubroot arrives on a field because the pathogen, once detected, will already have a leg up on any future management strategies,” they say. “CR varieties used early will keep spore loads low and local, particularly if combined (and this is important) with at least a two-year break between canola crops and an absolute minimum amount of soil movement.” There is a map (the agronomy team calls it a ‘recipe’) to navigate clubroot.

What else do you see around the corner? And are you flexible enough to make the turns required to go over or around those obstacles? I’m curious about what you’re seeing. Email me at whetterj@canolacouncil.org or call
807-468-4006 and let’s talk about it.