Alibaba Group executive chair Jack Ma and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hold lobsters, representing one of the most popular Canadian foods available on the giant Chinese online retail platform.
|  Alibaba photo

Canadian processors strangely quiet on online grocery opportunities

It appears consumers around the world are increasingly turning to online venues to do their shopping. The headlines out of the United States about the big Black Friday retail push this past weekend emphasized the growing market share of online retail. Groceries are not excluded from this trend, and major food companies are starting to […] Read more

Sales to China easier if meal improved

I might be presumptuous, but I think China’s capacity for canola imports is better than the pessimistic outlook issued by a major Chinese grain company executive. Felix Muller, head of global soft seeds for COFCO International, last week said China’s imports will likely be capped at about 10 percent above the current level. We’ve reported […] Read more

The falling loonie had more market impact than Saskatchewan Agriculture’s yield estimates or China’s wheat policy reform.  |  File photo

Special deal: three topics in one column

I’ll address several issues in this week’s column, from Saskatchewan crop yields to the value of the Canadian dollar to China’s changing support for domestic wheat producers. Currency dips The biggest market mover last week was the Canadian dollar’s decline to trade just below US78 cents. Only last month, most Canadian currency analysts predicted the […] Read more


Brazilian soybeans are loaded for shipment to China. The Asian giant’s voracious soybean demand often surprises forecasters but policy changes might cool demand for imports.  |  Reuters photo

China’s policy change bad for soybean imports

The adage is that big crops get bigger but that does not appear to be the case in U.S. soybeans this year. The trade last week expected the United States Department of Agriculture to raise its yield forecasts for corn and soybeans in its monthly report. It did raise the corn yield, but it lowered […] Read more

A farmer straight cuts peas on a field north of Brandon. A wide range of prairie crop conditions will make forecasting difficult.  |  Jeannette Greaves photo

August crop forecasts tend to underestimate

Trying to forecast final production when the crop is still growing is like shooting at a fast-moving target. Statistics Canada planned to release its first projection of Canada’s 2017 crop on Aug. 31, after this column was written. We’ll have full same-day coverage on our website and also in next week’s paper. UPDATE: You can […] Read more


Despite a global stocks-to-use ratio of 35.5 percent, there is growing panic among millers about a shortage of quality, high protein wheat. | File photo

What happened to those burdensome wheat stocks?

With spring wheat prices soaring, farmers might be thinking that all that talk of huge world wheat stocks was a lie. Well, those stocks are still there, but the rapid development of a drought on the northern U.S. Plains this year has focused traders’ minds on a portion of the wheat market — the high […] Read more

Whole Foods has catered to a young, wealthy demographic interested in organic food.  |  Reuters photo

Amazon purchase of Whole Foods in sync with consumer trends

News that Amazon is buying Whole Foods Market for US$13.7 billion probably did not make a big impact in the minds of prairie grain farmers busy monitoring for pests and spraying weeds. However, it could create a food retail sector shake-up that would vibrate down the food chain. The stock markets and business analysts were […] Read more

Opposing attitudes regarding cattle are one illustration of India’s diversity. Peasant farming stands next to high tech industry and the majority Hindu culture must find accommodation with huge populations of Muslims and other religious and non-religious minorities.  |  Reuters photo

Bovine slaughter crackdown in India creates huge disruption

India’s central government has brought in a law that threatens to end the slaughter of cattle and buffalo in the country, raising the potential for the biggest change in the global beef market in decades. It is a shocking development, but its effect on beef markets has been negligible so far because most observers figure […] Read more


China’s hog production faltered while it transitioned from backyard production to modern barns but is catching up with demand and the country might need less pork imports in 2018.  |  Reuters photo

Expanding Chinese pig production is no black swan

Let’s talk about black swans and pigs in this column. The black swan is a metaphor, while the pigs are real. When I was in university, I had a summer job in a park in Moose Jaw, Sask. The park has a beautiful creek that was stocked with swans and ducks. One spring, the city […] Read more

All meat consumption in the U.S. is rising again after a slowdown about 10 years ago.  |  File photo

Consumers developing hunger for meat again

Much is made of the growth of vegetarianism in North America, but domestic meat consumption data indicates that most people in Canada and the United States still have a taste for beef, pork and poultry. Jim Long of Genesus Genetics, a pig genetics company, often has interesting observations about the pork industry around the world. […] Read more