Saskatchewan Fruit Growers
2014 – 2017
Table of Contents
Introduction & Background
The Strategic Plan
1.1 Strategic Initiatives
1.2 Industry Overview
1.3 SWOT Analysis
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.
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:
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
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
To support fruit research projects in Saskatchewan
A.That investigate the health benefits of consuming Saskatchewan fruit
B.That relate to Value-added processing
C.That relate to plant breeding, agronomy, and new machinery development
D.That support plant breeding (at the University of Saskatchewan), development of agronomic knowledge, and development of economically efficient machinery and tools
E.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
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
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.
Health Related Claims
STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES, OPPORTUNITIES,
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
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
2. PARTICIPANTS IN THE STRATEGIC PLANNING
Wayne Pearson; SFGA President Prairie Sun Orchards
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
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 email@example.com Dr. Bob Bors University of Saskatchewan Dept. of Plant Sciences Saskatoon, Sask. S7N 5A8 Work Phone:306-966-8583 Fax: 306-966-5015
Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture 3085 Albert St., Regina, SK. S4S 0B1 Phone: 306-787-4666 Fax: 306-787-0428 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org