It still comes as a surprise when the potential for export sales for Yorkton and area business is brought into tighter focus.
It is, at times, easy enough to lose track of the fact Yorkton is the centre of a trading region that encompasses tens of thousands of people, extending north at least as far as Hudson Bay, SK., and Swan River MB., as well as to the east, south and west.
For most of the city’s residents the business of our community is likely to seem confined to the local residents, we buy what we need in the stores here, and think little about just what it takes for businesses to be successful.
For most, it means serving the residents of the larger trading area.
For a few, it means taking products they produce here to a worldwide market.
Last week that fact was again brought home as TA Foods, a local flax and hemp oil production company hosted a tour of potential customers for Saskatchewan products from China, Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam.
The tour was arranged through the Saskatchewan Trade & Export Partnership (STEP), an important organization provincially in terms of connecting companies here with products to export with buyers around the world.
Saskatchewan relies heavily on export sales in particular in terms of forestry, and more important locally, mining and agriculture.
From a rural perspective, farmers here have always produced for a worldwide market, as they far out-produce what can be consumed domestically.
However, the ability to access foreign markets now extends well beyond shiploads of wheat, canola, barley and other crops headed to international markets. Increasingly, we see farm crops processed here, and the resulting product exported.
That is the case with TA Foods crushing flax and hemp to produce oil products, but the company is hardly unique in that aspect, even locally.
Yorkton is home to two plants crushing thousands of tonnes of canola annually, much of the resulting oil and meal, destined for export markets.
Another facility turns oats grown across the region into a cereal product, much of which is destined for tables in countries beyond Canada’s borders.
Such local agricultural producers are important to our city in terms of jobs, and taxes, both elements of having a vibrant economy and community. But, without export markets, those companies simply could not exist as they do today.
It may not always be something we recognize, but the ability to compete globally, to make sales around the world, is vitally important to Yorkton, SK, and its residents.