As anyone who owns a business knows, producing a product is only part of the process. Selling that product is perhaps more important. When you export 90 percent of what you produce, you have to go around the world to sell it.
Cam Dahl, president of Cereals Canada, is a part of this process, and at this moment, is travelling the world to sell Canadian cereals. In this interview with RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney, they played a little game of “Where in the World is Cam Dahl?” The answer might make you dizzy.
Dahl says, “We’re in the middle of the annual new crop missions where we visit some of our largest customers around the world. We visit about 17 countries in total, and right now we’re part of the Asian part of the mission. We started off in Japan and visited Indonesia and then Singapore, and now (have) two stops in China.” (Story continues below the player)
With all of this time energy and money spent travelling the world, what is the actual purpose of meeting the customers face to face? According to Dahl, It is making sure you are taking care of the people who buy the grain. “It really is customer support, to review the quality of the current crop and to support those customers that are buying large volumes of grain.”
Haney asks the difficult question about what this year’s quality and what they are telling the countries that rely on high quality wheat. Dahl’s answer is somewhat surprising and reassuring. “We did have some challenges, but you know what, actually the quality is turning out to be a lot better than I think everyone had expected, given the September we had. and this is going to sound odd but it was actually good that it was cool in September because means that there was very little sprouting.”
There are a lot of crosswinds in trade relationships now. There are new trade agreements — such as CPTPP, and CETA — which will have effects on future trade, and there is also uncertainty as the U.S. moves to re-work its existing trade agreements.
Although the water is roiled and there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty, in some cases Canada is doing well. Dahl cites China as an example of this. “If you look at China specifically, two crop years ago, we exported about 350,000 tonnes to China. Last year we exported about a million tonnes to China, and this crop year, which of course started in August, we will have exported a million tonnes by Christmas.”