TA Foods in Yorkton hosted a tour of 65 visitors from China, Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam today, (Friday).
The tour was arranged through the Saskatchewan Trade & Export Partnership, explained Mike Popowich, owner at TA Foods, and they were happy to host the delegation.
“We’ve been part of STEP for a long time. It’s one of the key trade organizations to be part of,” he said.
Yi Zeng, Senior Director, Asia with STEP said bringing the group to Yorkton was a natural in terms of promoting agricultural processing in the province.
“Yorkton is one of the largest food processing areas (in Saskatchewan),” he said, noting that in addition to TA Foods there are other processors such as Grain Millers, the Richardson canola crusher and Harvest Meat. “It shows our visitors how we are dedicated to our processing.”
Zeng said they had hoped to stop at other facilities in the city, but the size of the tour group made that impossible based on having enough safety gear and other plant access requirements.
The tour was a follow-up to the delegates attending the Saskatchewan Asia Trade Conference in Regina Tuesday to Thursday of this week.
Popowich noted that TA Foods has been part of the trade conference through the years, even presenting two years ago as a speaker focused on the flax sector in Canada.
Zeng said both the conference in Regina, and the visit to TA Foods are efforts “to help Saskatchewan businesses doing business (in Asia).”
Popowich said among those on the tour there were individuals representing companies have done business with in the past, but they had not visited the plant before. He said having that face-to-face interaction to solidify an existing relationship has to be beneficial.
Having delegates in the province, where they can visit farms and processes is a way to promote the quality of Saskatchewan agriculture.
“They see the quality ... all the way from field to product,” said Popowich.
Popowich said while Canadian producers can be competitive on the price side, “it’s quality that sets us apart.”
As it stands TA Foods does about 30 per cent of its business in Asia, and Popowich sees potential to grow that, so making connections through events such as the STEP Conference and tour is important.
“Asia is definitely one of our growth areas,” he said, adding that while there are some added “difficulties to access” those markets, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea are markets they see expansion of sales being reasonable.