It’s been over 5 years since the end of the CWB.

What’s changed for you?

If you’re working with the same grain buyers you’ve always worked with, maybe nothing much has changed.  On the other hand, if you’re looking for more options and control when selling your grain, then the past 5 years have delivered you many opportunities for change.  If you haven’t taken advantage of all those opportunities though, it’s understandable.  They haven’t all emerged in exactly the way you might have expected.

Two-sided outlook

If the CWB was anything, it was divisive.  Those who supported it felt it gave growers a stronger position in the global market and a sense of confidence there would always be a buyer for their crop.  Those opposed felt limited in their ability to find the right buyer and price for their product.

Today, regardless of which side you were on, you still want the same outcome:

  • security there is a buyer for your grain.
  • confidence that the outcomes are the best possible.

Of course, this can be said of all the crops you grow, not just those previously tied to the CWB.

How you evaluate the end of the CWB really comes down to the impact it’s had on your operation and your ability to achieve what you’ve always wanted to.  However, a fairer assessment can be made when you’ve considered all the marketing options that have emerged post-CWB, even those that don’t fit with a traditional marketing strategy.

The buyers we expected vs the buyers we got

Expectation 1

New investment.  New terminals.  New plants. 

Some eagerly expected it to be a heyday of investment in new infrastructure and jobs.  You’ll probably agree that the changes haven’t been as quick or as momentous as that.

Expectation 2

Few buyers.  No transparency. 

I think Ed White put it perfectly in a recent article in the Western Producer.

“A lot of people worried that the prairie grain market would sink into a dark age as the CWB disappeared, with a handful of buyers controlling price information and preventing price transparency from existing in any real way.  However, as we ease into 2018, it’s nice to see that the cash market has survived and thrived.” 

The buyers we got

The fact is, buyers and opportunity have come.  They have arrived quietly and methodically and in ways you might not have expected. They didn’t come with the intent to pour more concrete or to build loop tracks for bulk commodity handing.  Instead, they came with the creativity to use the existing supply chain gaps.

Many of the new buyers use merchandizing offices to procure grain from all over western Canada, reaching out to growers on the phone, via email, or online.  Their lack of infrastructure or a large employee base is how they achieve efficiency.  But really, they are no different than the other bricks-and-mortar buyers in that they strive to provide strong service, pick up your grain when they say they will, and pay you for it in a timely fashion.

The presence of a variety of buyers means that there is diversity in demand and likely an accessible opportunity for you to sell your grain regardless of grade, location, or quantity.  And, perhaps it’s partially an issue of timing, but the diversification in selling opportunities is enhanced by the price transparency delivered through technology.  Growers can access multiple offers if they choose to and compare prices in combination with the terms.  It’s an exciting time for grain marketing when you can search around for a buyer that meets your specific needs – regardless of your location.  And, the prices you have access to, regardless of whether you take the offer, gives you insight into the market and informs your decisions.  The price transparency is a win for growers who can better position themselves for profit.

Today’s web of buyers

I like to explain the approach to today’s grain market as going from a straight line, to a spider web.  Traditionally, most growers saw their grain moving from their operation, to a terminal, and from there to port.  While that’s still true for many, the spider web of options also exists in parallel.

As a grower, you have access to buyers in a variety of niche markets, including selling to end users, processors, crushers, directly to shippers, or other farm operations.

How you connect with these buyers is different.  They aren’t all down the road.  Technology however can be the great equalizer.  You don’t have to be face to face with a buyer to learn more about them and what they have to offer.  Our online marketplace, CXN360, is an example of how you can expand your network of buyers to take advantage of the changing marketplace.  There are lots of options to consider if you know where to look.

Taking advantage

Things have changed since the end of the CWB.  The changes might seem small and subtle, but their impacts aren’t.  The ability to sell your grain to whatever buyer has the best offer for you is a game changer.  As is the ability to see different offers simultaneously, compare them, and make a strategic, informed decision.  Does that mean you have to sell your grain to a new buyer?  Not necessarily.  You take the information, weigh your options, and make a choice.  The buyer you’ve worked with for decades might be the right deal for you.  Or maybe not.  It’s nice to have those options.

Ready to meet some new buyers?  Sign up now for your complimentary CXN360 trial membership.