Food makers seek buyers for business

Western Canadian food processors have received funding from the federal government to find foreign buyers for their products and businesses.Western Economic Diversification Canada is providing $961,000 to pay for a series of trade missions to and from the Asia-Pacific region to promote trade, attract capital and find future owners for many small-scale food companies.“The combination of these two activities is projected to return approximately $13.5 million in sales and foreign direct investment from Asia-Pacific countries to Western Canada over the next four years,” said Lynne Yelich, minister of state for WED.Darrell Schneider, chief operating officer of the Saskatchewan Food Processors Association, said one of the main goals of the four-year pilot program is to find new owners for food businesses where the current owners are nearing retirement.“We’ve got literally thousands of companies that are going to go by the wayside in the next number of years unless we find an alternative,” he said. “It’s going to be desperate in the next five to 10 years for our companies.”Up to seven outgoing and four incoming trade missions are planned to and from China, Hong Kong, South Korea, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.The federal funding and $864,000 in private sector investment from processors, their associations and Food Beverage Canada will pay for the trips.A maximum of 70 companies will make the overseas journey.The outbound trade missions will identify potential investors, investment funds and entrepreneurs interested in immigrating to Canada.Schneider said the goals of the trip will depend on which processors are involved. Many food companies in British Columbia are looking for two-way trade while his member companies are more concerned about succession planning.He is a good example of somebody looking to sell his snack food business to a hardworking foreign investor.“My son is with SaskEnergy and his wife is a nurse. They don’t want my business and I don’t blame them.”Finding new owners isn’t the only focus of the trips. They are also intended to attract capital to finance expansion of Western Canada’s processing sector, expand export trade into Asian markets and form business alliances and partnerships.Schneider said the incoming trade missions are a way to show off the value-added sector and a potential new home for those interested in immigrating.“This is a lifestyle that people in other parts of the world would do anything for,” he said.

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