Organic markets quiet heading into the holiday season

Photo: File

By Ashley Robinson
Commodity News Service Canada

As the winter and holiday time settles over Canada, the organic grain marketing season is quieting down.

“The only thing I really have noticed is that the buying demand has really slowed down. September, October there was a pretty good frenzy,” said Tristan Gill, commodity trader with Westaqua Group. Adding, “I think a lot of contracts through fall and through the first quarter have all been filled.”

Therefore food and feed manufacturers are holding off for now on buying grain. Gill predicts buying will pick up again in late January or early February.

It’s a super heavy crop and just no quality issues whatsoever. – Scott Shiels, Grain Millers Canada

In Western Canada the organic harvest wrapped in October with good quality crops.

“Overall we’d be just a little bit above average, but the quality’s making up for a lot of that. It’s a super heavy crop and just no quality issues whatsoever,” said Scott Shiels, grain procurement merchant with Grain Millers Canada in Yorkton, Sask.

As well in areas where the drought hit this summer, crops were decent. Jason Breault, manager of RW Organics in Mossbank, Sask. said crops were better than expected considering the area received less than two inches of rain during the growing season.

“We lived off of moisture from the winter and last fall. (Next year’s crops) won’t even germinate if we don’t get rain in the spring,” Breault said.

In Ontario harvest progress was hampered by wet weather throughout November, according to the Thompsons Organic Crop Report released Nov. 24. Low test weights for corn are a concern due to the wet weather. As well the organic soybean market has firmed up, with producers having either marketed their crop or holding off until after harvest when they can determine quality and yields of the crop.

New company takes organic crops from farm to market

A new organic grain buying company has set up shop on the Prairies, providing farm to processor service.

“(Pipeline Foods is) completely organic, that is all we care about, all we think about, all we do is organic food production and marketing. We go right to the farmgate, we cut out middle men essentially,” said Jason Charles, director of organic marketing, North America, for Pipeline Foods.

Pipeline Foods was incorporated in February of this year. Since then the company, based in Minneapolis, Minn., has opened offices in Winnipeg, MB., St. Louis, Mo. and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Pipeline as well has purchased elevators in Gull Lake, Sask., Wapella, Sask. and Lignite, N.D. and has 50 employees. They are also currently building a concrete high throughput facility in Bowbells, N.D.

“(We) strategically locate everything we’re doing as a part of a bigger picture, geographic locations, close to farmer hubs, main railroads, that kind of thing,” said Charles.

Charles himself is one of four founders of Pipeline. He has an organic background, having run a 12,000 acre organic farm with his parents in southwest Saskatchewan for more than 20 years.

Prior to Pipeline, Charles had a smaller organic grain handling company, which has since been sold. Charles’ previous company is where he started the straight from farmgate to destination.

As an organic farmer Charles always felt in the dark about marketing his grain.

“More times than not I would sell a bushel of grain and I wouldn’t know who was picking it up and it might get sold two or three times before some truck shows up. I wouldn’t know who was paying me and where it was going,” he said.

With Pipeline it is all about transparency, according to Charles. The company wants to make sure each farmer knows what Pipeline is doing when selling their grain and where their grain is going.

Pipeline’s marketing strategy as well allows for the company to pay producers slightly higher for their grain than other companies. Since Pipeline deals directly with processors it cuts out the middlemen which allows for larger profits for farmers, according to Charles.