IAF Bids Farewell to Longest-Standing Program Manager

When Coreen Rodger Berrisford first set foot in IAF in 2004, she was expecting a temporary assignment from her regular post with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Hoping to work more directly with industry, she accepted a six-month contract as a Program Manager. But by the end of her term she realized “this was it,” an epiphany which sparked a fifteen-year career with the Foundation.

Now the Director of Client Relations, her tenure has seen no shortage of challenges, opportunities and adventures. Beloved for her optimism and energy, Coreen views not only her success but her entire scope of work as merely one part of a larger whole, with every achievement defined by the relationships they influence and inspire.

“This is a great place to work if you want to feel like you’ve accomplished something, I know people really appreciate the work that IAF does and the support it gives,” she explains. “In my role I’m often on the receiving end of that recognition, having worked with clients on hundreds of applications to help build their projects.”

And while she has either managed or collaborated on more than a dozen funding programs and initiatives in areas like agricultural area planning, labour, innovation, export and apiculture, her favourite projects allowed her to work directly with farming committees to address pressing issues like biosecurity and animal care, or opportunities like agri-tourism.

The Poultry Biosecurity Initiative, for instance, while initially the most challenging pursuit, resulted in a significant decrease of Avian Influenza and reduced impacts to industry.

For Coreen, the diversity of responsibilities entrusted to her is one of the many reasons she’s chosen to remain with IAF for over a decade.

“When you think of all the work we have done as an organization its pretty broad, its hit almost every area of need,” she describes.

Conversely, its also what’s allowed her to focus her interests and encouraged her to launch her own business, CORAN Consulting. Her first opportunity – serving as the BC Cranberry Marketing Commission’s new General Manager!

“It’s the next step in working directly with and for farmers again, that’s what I’m looking forward to,” she says. “It takes my favourite part of working with IAF and makes it my core activities.”

But like most transitions in life, the change is bittersweet, with her departure leaving an undeniable void for her teammates.

“Working with good staff makes all the difference – we support each other and that’s made it a really great place to work,” she emphasizes, adding that she’s also enjoyed many rewarding relationships with IAF directors over the years as well.

 “They are really industry leaders who put so much of their own time into making IAF successful and their industry successful.”

With the last 15 years reflecting a mix of elements simultaneously stimulating, dynamic, fun and heartwarming, Coreen leaves stronger than when she arrives, primed for her next role. 

“There are no lost opportunities – I’ve done it all, which is why I feel like I can finally go.”

Sutherland Gets Set For Market Development Tour

We recently sat down with Sutherland S.A. Produce as they prepared to embark on their 2019 export initiative. Thanks to Market Development funding under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial agreement, the Kelowna grower and packer is gearing up to promote BC cherries, blueberries and apples during a series of US and Asian trade missions this fall. Included in their ambitious itinerary are Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and potentially Japan (which opened its doors to BC cherries for the first time in 2018).

Aiming to familiarize itself with each market’s specific needs and capabilities, Sutherland will meet directly with various supermarket buyers and online retailers, making sure to inspect their potential client’s facilities.

“These visits are crucial for allowing us to assess the retail outlets firsthand and ensure that potential clients have proper cold-chain facilities and other logistics in place,” director of sales Rick Chong explains. “Ultimately, we need to be confident that the fruit we export will have a reasonable shelf-life and the Canadian brand will be maintained.”

Project funding will also enable Sutherland to attend Asia Fruit Logistica (AFL) in Hong Kong in September and the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit in California in October, both crucial tradeshows for their target markets.

AFL alone attracts over 50,000 visitors from all over Asia and the Middle East, offering Sutherland a venue to meet prospective new customers while strengthening relationships with existing clients.

Having completed previous export initiatives through IAF-delivered programs, Sutherland knows how critical funding support is for activities that can be prohibitively expensive for many companies.

“The funding we have received from the governments of Canada and BC has been an immense contribution to our business development in export markets – we could not afford to attend these shows without some financial assistance,” says Chong, adding that Sutherland’s annual sales have risen by at least 30 percent due to tradeshow participation and has allowed them to hire more staff.

The Sutherland team is equally optimistic for their newest project, both for themselves and for the approximately 200 BC growers they represent who stand to benefit from increased export opportunities.

Stay tuned to learn more about Sutherland’s latest expedition, we’ll catch up with them again this coming fall!

Funding: $50,000 from the Governments of Canada and British Columbia through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. (MD019)