While the Covid crisis has halted many industries in their tracks, Brian Faulkner from BCfresh is considering the silver lining in the latest curveball to hit agriculture.
Even as the BC-based grower-owned and -operated produce company anticipates inevitable client loss, Brian is focused on other opportunities, confident that even critical setbacks can “lead to renewal and innovation.”
If Brian’s reaction seems counter-intuitive, consider the approach of his latest market development efforts to bring BC veggies to more Canadians.
“Despite global recognition and respect for BC agriculture, we discovered that when it came to inter-provincial marketing, specific geographical branding didn’t necessarily offer a competitive advantage,” he explains.
So, using funding from the BC Agrifood and Seafood Market Development Program, they hired a consultant to develop a secondary brand that would appeal to the inter-provincial consumer base.
“Sometimes we’re able to sell more BC products to more provinces by highlighting features such as ‘Pacific’ or ‘Grown in the West’ and focusing more on our family farms, their stories and their commitment to good practices and sustainability,” reports Brian, adding that 100 percent of their farms are family farms.
Project funding also supported their exhibit at the Gordon Food Service Show in Edmonton, allowing them to expand their regional customer base and pursue a sales and marketing opportunity with a local Edmonton company.
“This was our first time participating in this event,” Brian says. “It was great having funding support to test it out and make sure it is worth the investment to continue attending future shows.”
While there were some unavoidable delays due to Covid, Brian is confident that all the pieces are in place even if the timeline for their national brand launch has shifted.
“We’ll probably launch at the Canadian Produce Marketing Association conference next spring, by then we’ll have our website, videos and other marketing materials…we’ve laid the groundwork to roll it out, we’ve just shifted everything back a bit.”
For Brian, government funding is critical to encouraging company growth, as is working with a delivery agent that helps facilitate funding opportunities.
“Our partnership with IAF has always been good, we’re a repeat client so we really appreciate recent efforts to streamline the application process and provide a pre-approval stage to expedite subsequent funding requests,” he says. “Opening a dedicated intake window also enhances the consultation experience as IAF staff can offer more focused attention on application inquiries.”
Funding support provided by the Governments of Canada and British Columbia through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. (MD082, MD205)