Saskatchewan Fruit Growers Association







Full text


Saskatchewan Fruit Growers




2014 – 2017

Prepared by:

SFGA Executive

October, 2013


Table of Contents

Introduction & Background

pages 2-5

The Strategic Plan

1.1 Strategic Initiatives

pages 5-7

1.2 Industry Overview

pages 7-8

1.3 SWOT Analysis

pages 9-10



The Saskatchewan Fruit Growers Association (SFGA) was established in 1988 to represent the interests of commercial fruit growers in Saskatchewan. Over the past 25 years the industry has grown from a stage characterized by small local markets absorbing strawberry, raspberry, and “native” wild-fruit, harvesting with little or no commercial processing activity; to a stage in which export markets are being supplied, processors have developed a variety of processed products that are sold through large-scale retail grocers, and new domesticated varieties of fruit and nut have been released from the University of Saskatchewan Fruit Research Program. Some human clinical trials have also been conducted to investigate the relationship between

consumption of Saskatchewan grown fruit, and health benefits that could be used to better market them.

At the inception of the SFGA there were a limited number of fruit species capable of being used for commercial production in cold climates (e.g. Saskatoons, Strawberries, and Raspberries), but new species and cultivars recently released by the University of Saskatchewan’s fruit breeding program have broadened the options available to producers (e.g. dwarf sour cherries, haskap, apples, hazelnut, grapes, et cetera). In response to specific fruit production needs, several species-specific corporate entities were created including: Haskap Canada, Canadian Cherry Producers Inc. (CCPI), Prairie Fruit Processor’s Ltd., and Prairie Apple Producers Incorporated (PAPI). The “Canadian Prairie Fruit Federation” has also been active with membership from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta to serve some of the research and marketing needs generic to all three provinces.

Some industry advancements include: two new risk management tools... the Multi-Peril Fruit Tree Insurance Program offered by Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation, as well as the Wildlife Damage Compensation Program; better agronomic production practices being

developed with support from growers, Agricultural Demonstration Of Practices and Technology funded trials, and CAAP projects (like Dr. Cory Sheffield’s investigation of Fruit Crop

Pollination and Wild Bee survey); and new pest management tools registered through PMRA’s Minor Use Program. Unfortunately: storage, handling, and transport infrastructure still needs development; industry statistical data remains poor; and product supply has varied significantly from year to year. The SFGA has supported research focused on: improved production practices that will allow growers to provide consumers with a consistent supply of top-quality fruit

(including improved disease/pest control, optimized pruning techniques, et cetera); the adoption of quality assurance protocols that will meet international food safety standards; creation of higher value production and processing industries through innovation and research; prairie-wide branding efforts; fruit breeding efforts to improve quality and diversity of fruit (like haskap breeding, grape and apple rootstock breeding, et cetera); health effects that result from consumption of our fruit. The SFGA also worked with the Government of Saskatchewan to develop crop insurance tools for our growers; and worked with the province and the Canadian Horticulture Council (CHC) for registration of appropriate pest control products.



The Fruit Industry in Saskatchewan

According to Statistics Canada the total Saskatchewan acreage planted for small fruit production in 1986 was 296 acres. At that time; strawberries held the dominant position with 208 acres, followed by 52 acres of saskatoons, and 36 acres of raspberries.

Saskatoon berries and new fruit crops like haskap (edible honeysuckle), dwarf sour cherry, and apples have shown relatively steady growth (since 1986 for Saskatoons... and early 2000’s for other fruit crops (Please see Table A).

In the early 90’s the search for new crops to increase farm income was underway. The

advantage Saskatoon berries had (with respect to early development) was that they were native to the western provinces and hardy, the downside was that diseases and pests were endemic. Early in 1994, the Saskatchewan Indian Agriculture Program Inc. identified the need to complete an assessment of the North American commercial market opportunities for wild fruit and berry crops grown in Saskatchewan. At that time, five major berries were considered for large commercial opportunity: chokecherry, saskatoon berry, wild blueberry, highbush cranberry and lingonberry. The communication and promotion of the results of the “Specialty Berry Market Assessment Study” fueled the early growth and interest in saskatoon berries as a diversified crop.

Table A – Fruit Production in Saskatchewan

Fruit Production Planted Acres - 1981 – 2013 Fruit 1981 1986 1991 1996 2001 2007 2013 Strawberry 13 208 311 340 214 250 300 Raspberry 7 36 75 80 83 86 90 Saskatoon - 52 169 463 916 1100 1200 Chokecherry - - - N/A 55* 55 65

Sea buckthorn - - - N/A 100* 100 100

HB Cranberry - - - 8* 8* 8 8

Blueberry - - - 2 2 2 2

Black Currant - - - 4 10* 10 12

Apples, Cherries, Haskap,

etcetera - - - 197 10 300+ 500+

Total Berry Production 20 296 557 1,094 1,398 1911** 2277**

Source: Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture

* estimated acreage, since berries included with other fruit

** acreage estimates based on personal contacts and SFGA Membership

Industry responded to the market assessment and between 1996 and 2001 the number of acres dedicated to saskatoons more than doubled. Projections indicate saskatoon acreage may continue to increase, but that other new fruit crop acreage and production may outstrip saskatoon berry acreage over time.


With increased availability of fruit, several processing companies have created processed product lines that can be purchased in retail outlets throughout western Canada. In 1998; “Saskatchewan Agriculture, Food and Rural Revitalization”, established a fruit specialist, which enabled

increased and specific focus in the industry, and by 2004 there were 525,000 pounds of “Saskatoons” processed in the province. Frozen berries were introduced in retail outlets of Federated Co-operatives throughout western Canada in 2005. Since 2005; other products have been introduced into the retail marketplace including: juice blends, sauces, jellies, jams,

honey/fruit mixtures, and varieties of frozen and fresh fruit.

There have also been ancillary support companies that have developed with the industry, such as Prairie Plant Systems (who use micro-propagation to produce large quantities of saskatoons, cherries, Haskap et cetera). Their plantlets can be ready for transplant in just over a year. Interest has increased regarding manufacturing small orchard harvesting equipment and other machinery, as well as the “Mexican/Caribbean Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) and the “Low Skill Agricultural Worker Program” that have been available so that producers can meet the significant labour needs to run, or expand orchards.

In 1999 Dr. Bob Bors joined the University of Saskatchewan and revitalized the Fruit Breeding & Research Program. This program is the only fruit-breeding program at a public institution on the prairies. It is recognized in North America and around the world for the work done on Dwarf Sour Cherry, Haskap, cold-climate Apple and Grape breeding, as well as other cold-hardy fruit. The extension and research activities under the direction of Bob Bors, and Rick Sawatzky have significantly contributed to the growth of new fruit crops in Saskatchewan. In 2006 the

University of Saskatchewan released six varieties of Dwarf Sour Cherry. Frozen pitted packaged cherries are now available in the Saskatoon retail marketplace, along with Juices, Ice cream products, wines, liqueurs, and dried (in some cases sweetened) cherries. Interest has come from Japanese companies to import Haskap fruit, but more potential has been targeted within Canada. There are now commercial haskap growers across the entire country, but the overwhelming majority of the acres remain centered in Saskatchewan. Haskap growers have developed processed products like jams, jellies, liqueurs, and are targeting the smoothie, juice, and health markets. New varieties of haskap have been released by the U of SK including: “Tundra”, “Borealis”, “Aurora”, “Honeybee”, “Indigo Gem”, “Indigo Treat”, and “Indigo Yum”.

Apple acreage has increased in the past 10 years. Rick Sawatzky worked with Craig and Yvette Hamilton to establish a 40 acre apple orchard near Radisson Saskatchewan. The Hamilton’s success sparked interest by other growers and the number of acres began to increase

significantly. An apple committee was established to address the marketing and development needs of apple producers, which eventually formed into the Prairie Apple Producers Inc. (PAPI). In 1999 the apple variety SK Prairie Sun was released from the U of SK breeding program, then in 2005 “Prairie Sensation”, followed by “Autumn Delight”, “Misty Rose”, “Festive Treat”, as well as unofficial PAPI named varieties “Celeste”, “Red Mike”, “Anna Gold”, “Patience”, “Granny Annie”, “Petrofka Mac”, “Prairie Rose”, and “Sweet Saffron”. There have also been


releases of other fruit and nuts (Plums, Pears, Grapes, Hazelnut) through the U of SK “Cooperative Testing Program”.

Dr. Bors has also produced several grower manuals to help guide new growers and to provide a reference to people established in the industry.

Provincial records indicate that $3.2 million dollars have been spent on 61 fruit research and development projects since 1999.

The SFGA has evolved with the times and attempts to meet the particular needs of its membership. Recent projects have included the launch of a new website, and exploration of social media marketing tools.

The impetus to create a revised strategic plan for 2014-2017 resulted from the SFGA completing its previous strategic plan in 2013. New industry developments and SFGA budget limitations made it appropriate to reconfigure goals and objectives to better enable the SFGA to meet the needs of its membership.

Section 1 – The Strategic Plan

This strategic plan is designed to ensure that the SFGA remains a viable

organization that provides value to its membership, and is crafted to ensure

activities conducted by the organization fall within strict budget parameters.

Overall objectives:


To provide education and unique business support to SFGA Members

(50% of yearly budget)


To promote public awareness of fruit production in Saskatchewan ;

(30% of yearly budget)


To support relevant fruit research projects in Saskatchewan

(15% of yearly budget)


To represent the Saskatchewan Fruit Industry to Government

(5% of yearly budget)

1.1 Strategic Objectives:

Goal 1:

To serve the unique needs of SFGA Members...via:



I. Website: launch new site that will feature better resource libraries, news updates, links to grower site information, et cetera


II. Workshops: utilize top experts (in some instances via web-conference tools) and offer workshops relating to: agronomics (pruning; grafting; weed, disease, insect, wildlife control; irrigation; fertilization; pollination and bee keeping; post-harvest storage and handling); food safety; et cetera.

III. Newsletters: to ensure membership remain up-to-date on issues, to allow the activities of the association to be promoted, and to facilitate member participation in the


IV. Mentor referral: provide “open farm day” opportunities where new entrants to the industry can be mentored by veteran growers who are willing to provide instruction and allow visitation to their orchard sites on specific dates (arranged by the SFGA)

V. Conferences: to bring the membership together, provide speakers regarding a wide range of industry relevant topics, to conduct the Annual General Meeting, provide a venue for members to develop business contacts and camaraderie, and provide a venue for fruit industry suppliers to pitch their new products to SFGA membership clients


Business Support

I. Bulk Purchase Apps: (integrated within the new website) also to include a “Merchandizing Manual”

II. Website: (links to commonly used suppliers); bulk order form features... of items that are commonly needed, et cetera

III. Workshops: marketing; processing; finance; labour; leadership; communications (social media); international trade guidelines; quality control; et cetera

IV. Branding; merchandizing materials; QR codes; logos; image management; ethics; et cetera

Goal 2: Promote Public Awareness of Fruit in Saskatchewan




I. Media Releases; to be prepared on a regular basis to ensure “news worthy” stories provide maximum exposure opportunity for SFGA members; provide SFGA spokesperson to media; sponsor “Media Tours” of orchards

II. Website; e-blasts, and other social media tools

III. Trade Show participation; including activities like “Open Farm Day” , or Food Expos



I. Social Media; periodic twitter feeds

II. Ads in Tourism Saskatchewan with links to SFGA website

III. Printed material available from the new SFGA website (Merchandizing materials for retailers, Upicks, et cetera)




I. Canadian Prairie Fruit Federation (CPFF) Brand (package available to SFGA Members on Website) highlighted at tradeshows, et cetera

II. Canada Brand (available to SFGA members), materials, guidelines for use, workshops, et cetera

Goal 3


To support fruit research projects in Saskatchewan


That investigate the health benefits of consuming Saskatchewan fruit


That relate to Value-added processing


That relate to plant breeding, agronomy, and new machinery development


That support plant breeding (at the University of Saskatchewan), development of agronomic knowledge, and development of economically efficient machinery and tools


That provide statistical knowledge about the fruit industry in the province

Goal 4: To Represent the Interests of the Fruit Industry

(mainly vis-a-vis Government) by...

A. Arrangement of meetings with Senior Ministry of Agriculture Officials (yearly with the Provincial Government, and biennially with the Federal Government)

B. Collaborate with external organizations on policy development (like CHC, CPMA, PMRA, SCIC, STEP, et cetera)

C. Promote creation of fruit “Development Commissions” or (through the national Farm Marketing Council) “Research, Market Development Promotion Agencies” to


1.2: Industry Overview

The strategic and business plan will provide generic areas of focus that should be maintained to ensure that the fruit industry continues to shift from stages 1 & 2 of commercial development to stages 3 & 4, as outlined in various market reports by Dr. Gary Storey (See below).

However; this does not imply that earlier developmental research activities can be abandoned, they are always important in the sustainability of the industry.


 Primary products produced are marketed by individual producers/ processors  Industry primarily markets on regional basis  No need to penetrate new markets outside immediate market

 Consumers willing to pay a premium over substitute products

 Industry primarily made up of small niche markets

 Government likely to commit resources for research to increase the productivity of the primary product

 Government might commit resources to help underwrite the operation of a producer or processor association

 The ability of an industry to handle any unexpected high yield

 A data collection system is developed to monitor estimate in yields

 Some entrepreneurs may see further industry expansion not in their interest and take various actions to discourage new entrants  Development of Primary processing capacity to handle surplus production  Development of new secondary processing capacity  Development of collective action in the form of cooperatives or industry councils beyond existing borders  Introduction of a check-off system

 New products are developed

 New markets are sought out

 Price premiums earned over substitute products are reduced

 Efficiency in

marketing is achieved

 Monitor estimated yields and improve data collection system based on results  Products produced domestically no longer command a premium  Marketing structure will have become effective and efficient

 Grower and processors will be viable

 Expanded production will have occurred

 Industry itself funds a major share of development

 Consumers will know and recognize the food products both domestically and internationally

 Continued research for higher yielding cultivars, new chemicals for

overcoming disease & pests

Research Areas Associated with the 4 Stages of Development*

Plant Systems Product Market

 Breeding

 Propagation

 Field Management

 Fertilizing

 Pruning

 Disease & Pesticide Controls  Information & knowledge  Food Safety  Post-Harvest Handling  Storage Life  Primary Processing – Fresh or Frozen  Secondary Processing – Value Added

 End Uses – Juices, concentrates, dried fruit, etc.

 Product Analysis

 Market Analysis

 Trends

 Health Related Claims

 Promotion






 The industry is growing

 There is a significant and growing amount of market opportunity

 Prices have increased with inflation

 Processing capacity within Saskatchewan using Saskatchewan grown fruit for their value added products has expanded

 The University of Saskatchewan Fruit Program provides excellent research capacity

 Functional food and nutraceutical processing capacity is strong

 There is a proactive vibrant morale within the industry

 Alberta and Manitoba growers are cooperative and partner with SFGA

 Successful U-pick infrastructure & grower experiences


 Difficulty of coordinating activity over vast distances (from a prairie perspective)

 Dollars to fund the strategic initiatives are lacking

 It takes 4 years to get saskatoon berry plants, Apples and Dwarf Sour Cherries into a fruiting stage of development

 Perception by non-members that there is no reason for them to belong to the SFGA

 Contribution to GDP is small relative to other agriculture industries

 Lack of infrastructure and to a limited extent a lack of experience in international food safety standards

 Lack of fully integrated value chains

 Lack of targeted marketing strategies

 Lack of industry appreciation of market segmentation

 Lack of identification of product

competitors and developing strategies in order to gain competitive advantages

 Lack of implementation plans

 Limited accuracy of financial projections

 Lack of infrastructure with respect to evaluation and control of industry development


 More cooperation among growers within the prairie provinces

 Local markets are growing

 Nutraceutical & functional food markets are expanding

 Growing Forward II funding programs are available to SFGA

 Processing capacity has been expanded

 To further develop value chain models or production cooperatives

 Strong points of difference in order to brand

 Large land base available to expand

 Further development of novel products

 More penetration into the domestic market


 There is difficulty identifying market potential and therefore marketing may be misplaced

 Fruit importers want assured supply and quality of fruit that may be difficult to meet

 Competition from other fruit and fruit production areas

 Foreign regulations regarding food safety may lead to import bans or detentions

 Quality of product may not be consistent enough to satisfy consumer preferences

 Lack of pest/disease tools to mitigate infestations and quality losses may lead to shorting


is achievable

 Processing research money is more readily available

programs may result in inability to evolve with the marketplace

 Lack of harmonization of industry standards with respect to food safety and pesticide residues, may lead to greater problems with respect to the international market

 Lack of knowledge regarding international standards for OFFS standards may limit market penetration



Wayne Pearson; SFGA President Prairie Sun Orchards

Box 387

Vanscoy, SK S0L 3J0 (306) 242-7573

Betty Forbes; SFGA Vice President Northern Vigor Berries Inc.

1822 Kenderdine Road Saskatoon, SK S7N 4K3 (306) 955-2319

Mel Annand; SFGA Past President Creekside Orchard

208 Main Street P.O. Box 69

Melfort, SK S0E 1A0 (306) 752-2454

Bruce Hill ; SFGA Board Member Hill Berry Acres

Box 360

Imperial, SK S0G 2J0 (306) 963-2632

Peg Munroe ; SFGA Board Member Box 717

Balgonie, SK S0G 0E0 (306) 789-1006

Vance Lester ; SFGA Board Member Living Sky Winery

Box 32 Perdue, SK S0K 3C0 306-290-1693 Dr. Bob Bors University of Saskatchewan Dept. of Plant Sciences Saskatoon, Sask. S7N 5A8 Work Phone:306-966-8583 Fax: 306-966-5015


Forrest Scharf

Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture 3085 Albert St., Regina, SK. S4S 0B1 Phone: 306-787-4666 Fax: 306-787-0428 Email: Catherine Duczek

Marketing & Trade Officer Midwestern Regional Office

Market and Industry Services Branch

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada 300 – 2010 12th Avenue Regina, (Saskatchewan) S4P 4K7 Telephone | Téléphone: 306-523-6531 Cellular | Cellulaire: 306-209-0834 Facsimile | Télécopieur: 306-780-7360

Ken Neuman ; SFGA Advisor Manager, SaskMade Marketplace 1621 8th St E., Saskatoon SK S7H 0T2


Patty Stewart; SFGA Administrator Box 1107, Yorkton, SK S3N 2X3 (306) 782-0256



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