Identifying Customers and Anticipating Guture Needs
Understanding what seed customers need in the short-term is not enough. Knowing today what they will need three or four years down the road is key to a successful and sustainable seed growing operation. In order to do this effectively, seed growers must acknowledge that they have two groups of customers—direct and indirect.
All seed growers understand the importance of meeting the needs of their direct farmer customers. Whether customers’ needs involve the agronomic characteristics of a particular variety, yield advantage, disease and insect resistance, seed price, payment terms or convenience, growers are adept at delivering their customers the seed that will meet their current needs.
Seed growers who have the ability to look down the value chain at the needs of their indirect customers can gain an advantage. These indirect customers (end-users) are those buying and processing the crops produced by their direct customers. Predicting changes in demand and being aware of the factors affecting these indirect customers can ensure that seed growers are well positioned for new and expanding opportunities.
Understanding Global Trends and Opportunities
The future needs of indirect customers may be impacted by a number of elements. One key to being a successful seed grower is cultivating the ability to interpret how changes around the world will impact customers’ demands. Global trends such as population growth, resource shortages and climate change will affect markets worldwide, which, in turn, may influence exports and consumer demands.
Other trends to watch for and monitor in the coming years include:
• Value-added specialty products for domestic markets that may require an identity-preserved system
• Globalization (such as new demand from emerging markets such as China and India)
• The bio-economy (such as new markets for biofuels, bio-materials and bio-chemicals)
• Health and wellness products (such as demand for healthy grains and gluten-free products)
• Requests from food retailers for sustainably produced products
Keeping Ahead of the Curve
It’s essential to know how to prepare in order to be able to provide direct customers with the products they require to successfully participate in the food value chain. Seed growers need to be two or three steps ahead, looking for new varieties and seed products and maintaining a ready supply of seed produced in anticipation of any changes or trends that may occur.
Creating More Demand for Certified Seed
The Canadian Seed Growers’ Association is actively promoting the value of the Certified seed system to end-users. The communications campaign targets food processors with messages about the advantages of using ingredients made from Certified seed. By raising awareness of the benefits of Canada’s Certified seed system, more and more end-users will insist on using grains and oilseeds grown from Certified seed. Seed growers should anticipate this future need and be ready to fill the demand.