Mind Your Farm Business — Ep. 47: Climbing the value chain


At some point, likely every farmer has been frustrated with markets and pricing, and thought about moving past commodity production and up the value chain. But as many quickly learn, direct marketing, dealing with processors, or even becoming a processor is not for everyone.

In this episode of Mind Your Farm Business, Jeff Nonay, a dairy farmer from Alberta, joins host Shaun Haney to talk about what it takes to move from commodity production to branded product production, and some of the tips to be successful at it.

So much of moving from a generic, volume business to a branded product is about building a brand with each partner in the value chain, whether or not you are responsible for each step. “There’s room for everything out there,” Nonay says. “I remember feeling strongly that we had a unique product with our beef. It’s Holstein beef, and a lot of people don’t know the characteristics of that beef.”

Starting local, Nonay has built a business partnering with a local butcher and restaurants. But it’s been a long, slow process. Six years of hard work is finally paying off, as the Edmonton and area food community, including chefs and restaurants, are getting on board with the unique product.

What’s been key, Nonay says, is focusing his efforts on his part of the service, but letting the other parts of the value chain do their jobs. But that only works if each part of the chain is committed to building the brand for each business, and that requires good communication, relationship management, and buy-in from each partner.

It’s important, he says, that you’re not just selling a product, you’re building a brand. “Determine what that is, because without that, none of this works.”

From where to focus your efforts, to recognizing what skills it takes to move up the value chain, and on to why it’s not necessarily a fit for every farm, listen on to hear more from Nonay in this podcast: 

Disclaimer: Royal Bank of Canada and its subsidiaries are not responsible for the information provided in this podcast, and this information does not necessarily reflect the views of Royal Bank of Canada or any of its subsidiaries. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its subsidiaries.

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