Canada’s Food Strategy: A little more on the process
Three articles ago, I talked about An Implementation Process. Since then, a couple of people commented that they thought such a process would be too complex and too much of a challenge for our very complex industry to carry out. Since then I’ve indirectly spoken a bit about the process and what it would entail, but now I’d like to talk a bit more about the steps in the process and what would be involved.
I have said that the All Chairs Forum (ACF) made up of the chairs of all of the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Roundtables would essentially lead the process. But at the same time, there needs to be a means of having the individual sector roundtables have a chance to review the work done by the ACF and provide more input from their sectors. Here’s how I could see it working.
Step 1: Have the ACF do some overall analyses
The three key “first steps” in the process are to do the PEST Analysis, the 5 Forces Analysis and the SWOT analysis at an overall level looking at the Canadian food and beverage industry (agriculture, fisheries, and food processing) in total.
The PEST Analysis would look at Political/Regulatory, Economic, Social/Demographic, and Technological trends happening in Canada, in North America, and globally and what’s happening there that would either support or challenge the growth of the Canadian food industry.
The 5 Forces Analysis would then zero in on the food industry and look at what’s happening with food consumers and customers, for example, retailers and foodservice that might have impact, positive or negative, on our industry. It would then take the same look at key supplier industries, like food packaging, and existing competition, like food industries of other countries. Then it would look at the threat of new competition, such as countries with growing food industries that are getting into exporting. Finally, it would look at the potential threat of substitutes, or supplements.
With that business environment outlined by those two analyses developed, the next analysis would be the SWOT. If we look at the Canadian food industry within that environment, what are our Strengths that we could build on? What are the Weaknesses we would need to strengthen? What are the market Opportunities, perhaps by commodity? What are any other Threats/challenges we face?
All of these Analyses could be done in a two-day meeting of the ACF.
Step 2: Get roundtable feedback
When all those analyses are complete, summarize in writing the findings of the ACF and send them to the Roundtable groups, including Poultry and Dairy that do not have Roundtables and ask them for their input and changes/additions that they might see as needed. It may be logical to combine some sectors, such as Red Meats including Beef, Pork, Sheep, and so on.
Step 3: Back to the ACF with the feedback
The ACG would review the comments of the Roundtables and make adjustments as they feel are necessary and have some interaction with the Roundtables to get their buy-in and support.
Step 4: Have the ACF develop a draft strategic plan
With the background analysis complete, it would then be possible to draft a strategic plan including items I have mentioned before. It would include:
- What is the Mission of the Canadian food and beverage industry in total? Would it be something like I suggested, “To make the Canadian food industry the global leader in the food world by being globally competitive, sustainable in every way, and financially successful?” Or would it be something else created by the ACF?
- What is our Vision for the Canadian food and beverage industry in total? Again, would it be as I suggested, “By 2020, Canada is the global leader in the food industry providing reliable and safe food to Canadians and our export customers?” Or would it be something else created by the ACF?
- What are the Values to which the Canadian food and beverage industry is committed? This could include things like environmental sustainability, sound nutrition and safe foods.
- What are the key general strategies for the industry that the ACF see coming out of all of that and the earlier analyses?
Step 5: Get Roundtable feedback and endorsement
Again, get the sector roundtable groups to review the suggested Strategic Plan and comment on the strategies, in particular, as they apply to their sectors and any additional inputs that they would like to see in their sectors. All of this would then be fed back to the ACF.
The point of this step is to get overall buy-in from all of the sectors, with the tweaks that they see as needed for their sector. The idea is not to have 10 or more sector strategies, but one national one with small adjustments by sector.
Step 6: Have the ACF make adjustments as necessary and then begin to publish the strategic plan
As before, there would be some interaction between the ACF and the Sector Roundtables to finalize the Strategic Plan into a final document. It should then likely be presented to key government ministries, such as Agriculture, Industry and Trade ministries at both the federal and provincial levels, to get their input and buy-in. Once all of that is done it would be published to the food and beverage industry in total.
That’s the way I see the process working, and I think it would work. Let’s do it!
Gary Fread is president of Fread & Associates Ltd., consultants to the food industry. He has spent more than 25 years in management positions in the food processing industry, with a background in sales, logistics, purchasing and technical areas. He has worked with Procter & Gamble, Campbell Soup and Morrison Lamothe, and is the past president and CEO of the Guelph Food Technology Centre. He is active in many food industry associations and organizations, serving on the boards of several. Contact him at email@example.com