Why You Should Invest in Your Employees

Posted on March 18 2015 | Author: Mary Dimou

You’ve found yourself at the head of an enterprise; you may be at the stage where you’ve just recently scaled up your business or perhaps you’re undergoing expansion. Either way, it’s time for you to assess your resources, manpower, and finally, start making critical decisions for your company’s future. For that, you will need a dedicated team behind you that you can trust to operate collaboratively and effectively, while providing the appropriate level of support to your customers.

It is important to strategize how to maintain that trust with your seasoned staff as well as begin to develop that trust with new hires.

This is a matter of opinion and the methodology is uncharted; but as a small operation, the salaries you can offer are likely not competitive with large corporate counterparts. The challenge becomes deciphering what you can offer that is unique to the small business environment to entice your new hires and sustain your loyal staff. The truth is fairly straightforward; you can invest in both their professional and personal growth.

MaryBlog

Here are a few critical points to consider while you are moving into this next step and recommendations to overcome these hurdles:

  1. The job market is perpetually changing. New graduates are entering the market with more credentials than their predecessors. This means a highly competitive applicant pool to choose new hires from; but on the other hand can translate to your current employees feeling pressures and insecurities. Diminish this by being proactive. You may consider creating a small allocation of your capital to a Professional Development Fund for each employee; or embark on creating company-wide training initiatives for all employees’ growth.
  2. Nurture them to be a resident expert in their field. Allow your employees to assume leadership roles on company initiatives and inspire them to share ideas of their own. Promoting an interactive and safe environment can stimulate creativity that could have positive effects on your current process efficiencies. Further, allowing your employees to work within interdisciplinary teams, or allowing them to shadow other positions in your company, can aid them in finding their niche. Once they have, take the time to plot a career path to alleviate any ambiguities about where they currently are in the company and where they could be.
  3. Support their network development. Encourage your team to expand their networks. Why? A greater network will contribute to greater self-assurance, confidence in their performance, and their opportunities to encounter relevant information. It’s imperative to keep your employees at the forefront of industry adaptations and educational criteria. As their employer, attempt to help them stand out in the crowd by introducing them to influential people in their expert field. You may even consider creating a Mentor Match program for your new employees to expedite their learning curve.

Ultimately, an employee that feels appreciated and invested in can be one of your greatest assets. A small investment, (be it monetary, time, or both) improves the productivity and workflow of your company; creates a champion in your corner, and can reduce your turnover rate. Consider what this could mean for your company and assess the amount you can allocate to employee development. 

Mary Dimou, M.Sc.
Business Analyst, Food Nutrition & Health

Photo Credit: Project Resource






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The Importance of Languages in Business

Posted on February 25 2015 | Author: Natalya Smardon

If you’re thinking about broadening your spectrum by engaging in international business, it’s important to consider which languages will be most frequently used for interactions with other businesses, clients and customers. Of course, most places around the world have large English-speaking communities and for the most part, English is used by professionals from all over the globe. You may be considering the idea that, knowledge of another language is not needed or not worth the time and effort it takes to learn. After all, why should you bother having multi-lingual employees when English is commonly the default language for communication? There are considerably large benefits to second language use that are invariably overlooked.

The foremost reason is respect. Believe it or not, even if your skills are a little rusty, people appreciate the effort. Showing a willingness to use another language even if you make mistakes demonstrates your confidence, dedication and willingness to connect – traits that are important for all entrepreneurs. Speaking another language not only helps with first impressions, but eases communication with business partners. Having both parties able to communicate in more than one language is ideal, as it can lead to a deeper understanding and thereby aid in a smooth transition from a national to international market. In this fashion, languages help with foreign affairs, correspondence with governments and institutions, and essentially any and all international exchanges. There is a growing demand for multi-lingual individuals as the global market expands, and the world becomes smaller.

If you or your business can be officially labeled as multi-lingual, you will find that more doors are open to you. With increased means of communication, you become more accessible to overseas markets that may have previously been unavailable to you, and can signal boost to reach a more extensive range of markets. Furthermore, you have the potential to access new sources of funding and sponsorship and can provide better services to clients.

Translators / communication platforms
One who is not already convinced on the importance of multi-lingualism, might say they have the use of electronic translators. These devices may be available at every turn in today’s society—apps on smartphones, computers and laptops, tablets and iPads, but unfortunately they are incorrect most of the time. Sure they can get the general idea across, but can you afford to blur the lines in your meetings and discussions? Electronic translators are inconveniently slow, do not understand acronyms, slang, jokes, and most importantly dialects. Having a real person translating and interpreting for you is much more personal, and accurate, and even better if you can do it yourself!

Blog Entry NatCross-cultural communication
Cross-cultural communication is an important aspect of international business that should not be looked upon lightly. There are many customs, gestures and signals that elude the less-traveled individual, which can lead to inconvenient and embarrassing misunderstandings. The last thing you want to do is strain relationships based on cultural miscommunications, but fear not! When you can speak a mutual language or two, it is much easier to explain your actions, discuss foreign customs and clear any confusion and misinterpretations. Here are a few gestures that may be unknown to you:

Eye Contact
In some African countries, it is considered insulting to make eye contact with your superiors. In contrast, Arab cultures see eye contact as very important and it is often constant. The same can be said for Brazil, where people look into one another’s eyes much longer than in North America, as they view the eyes as mirrors of the soul and see this as a way to get to know a person.

Finger beckoning
In North America, beckoning your finger at someone means ‘come here’, but in Malaysia it has an effect of ‘come here animal’. In Indonesia and Australia, it is used to call inferiors, and is an insult. Additionally, in North America the “okay” hand sign means everything is alright. Do that gesture in France, Australia or Islamic countries and it’s a great insult meaning zero, or worthless. Another commonly unknown gesture is the North American ‘halt’. In Iraq, putting your hand out in front of you with your palm facing outwards means hello.

Handing out Business Cards
In Hong-Kong, Singapore or Japan, when someone hands you his/her business card, they will do so with both hands. You have to receive it in both hands, look at it, acknowledge it and then put it into your pocket. Otherwise, it is considered quite rude. Whatever you do, don’t write on a business card in front of the person that gave it to you!

Yes and no
In many countries the nod forward is the symbol for ‘yes’. In Bulgaria, Pakistan and India you shake your head back and forth to say ‘yes’, the way North Americans and many Europeans say ‘No’. In Greece, ‘No’ is represented by shaking your head briefly backward and a mild tongue-clicking.

There are hundred of customs that could get you into trouble, be it manners, body language, verbal queues, forms of politeness, or attire. Do plenty of research before traveling!

Fun Facts

  • Canada's French-speaking population ranks second only to that of France worldwide. It is larger than the Francophone populations of Switzerland and Belgium combined.

  • The number of French-speaking Canadians living outside of Quebec is equivalent to that of entire provinces such as Saskatchewan, New Brunswick or Nova Scotia.

  • Almost one Canadian in four has French as a mother tongue and close to one Canadian in three speaks French.

  • 1.6 million of Canada's French-speaking population have an ancestry other than French or English.

  • According to the Linguistic society of America, there are between 6900 – 7000 languages spoken worldwide.

  • Not surprisingly, Mandarin Chinese is the most useful language for business after English, spoken by 845 million people in the world's second-largest economy, China. French is no. 2 and Arabic No. 3.

  • Studies from Rosetta Stone have shown that bilingual employees earn on average 10% more in their salary than those that are monolingual.

It is no question that business and language compliment each other. More and more, businesses are beginning to require language to be successful. The end result is that you can only benefit from learning and using a second, third or fourth language. Convinced? Read more from the Government of Canada on Making your Organization Bilingual.

“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” - Ludwig Wittgenstein

 

Natalya Smardon
Junior Marketing & Projects Coordinator

Resources:
ABC News
The Linguistic Society of America

Photo Credit: Glasbergen






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The Evolving Food Landscape

Posted on February 11 2015 | Author: Jessica Taylor

Jess 2015 blogWhen reflecting on 2014’s major trends such as the local food movement, transparency and the clean label, it is undeniable that consumer demand is driving innovation and change in the food sector. The Information Age has created a generation of consumers who are used to having answers at their fingertips and they expect the same from the food they are buying. Today’s consumer wants to know what they are eating, where it’s from and how it travelled through the supply chain.

So what should you keep your eyes open for this year? According to Innova Database here are a few of the trends we can expect in 2015:

Protein: Old Trend, New Sources
Consumers are still looking to increase their protein intake and we will continue to see more high-protein products enter the market but the difference this year will be the source. New sources of protein such as pea and milk will be introduced and novel sources like algae and insects will also hit the market. That’s right, last year’s “bug trend” is expected to continue! However, as we saw in 2014 insect-based products will be picked up quicker in Europe than here in North America. Keep your eyes open for products like Chirps, cricket chips, and Chocolate Chirp Cookies by Six Foods.

Gearing Up for a New Generation
Millennials, the biggest generation since the Baby Boomers, are now becoming the primary customers of food products. These individuals are 15 to 35 years old and are very different than any consumer the food industry has seen before. Unlike their parents, and generations before them, Millennials are very concerned about the story behind the products they are consuming; brand loyalty is a thing of the past. In 2015, we expect to see the food industry respond with marketing geared towards Millennials – more storytelling, more information.

From Clean to Clear: Changing Labels
With the consumer growing increasingly interested in their diet, food labels have evolved to provide appropriate information. In recent years food labels have become “clean” with statements such as: no additives; no preservatives; nutritious, wholesome ingredients; and claims about consumer health benefits. This year we will see another evolution of the food label, from clean to clear. The clear label will boost simple claims and hone in on the transparency trend providing consumers with a better idea of what they are eating.

Today’s consumer is all about the DIY. They want to Instagram a photo of their Tuscan Tortellini Vegetable Soup, Berry Green Smoothie and the incredible breakfast burrito they made this morning, but they want it to be as convenient as possible. These same Foodies who are looking to make gourmet meals at home are also in a rush and convenience is of utmost importance. We are a society that has come to expect instant gratification, even when it comes to food preparation. This year we should expect to see the food industry cater to this demand with pre-cut fruits and veggies and other products to speed up meal prep time.

The Rise of the Snack
Finally, more and more consumers are eating meals on their own and on-the-go. Many people have shied away from large family-style meals due to their increasingly busy lifestyles and the difficulty of finding a time where everyone can sit down. In 2015 the food industry should pick up on this trend and launch more “snack foods” to replace traditional meals. Breakfast is no stranger to this movement, but products this year will aim to replace lunch and dinner options with snacks as well!

Through a snap shot of the food industry we can see that many changes are on the horizon. As society evolves, so too must the food industry in order to meet the needs of the ever-changing consumer. It looks like innovation is the name of the 2015 food game – who is up to the challenge?

Jessica Taylor
Business Analyst, Food, Nutrition & Health

Resources:
PR News Wire
Food Navigator

Photo Credit: iStock






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Conference Common Sense

Posted on January 21 2015 | Author: Jennifer Kalanda

Conference blogAttending the right conferences can be an important element to the success, expansion or survival of your business. Once you’ve established your conference schedule however many, it’s important to make sure you show up with a plan and some common sense!

Get connected.
Many conferences have mailing lists that you can sign up for and receive updates about the upcoming event.  You can also follow their social media accounts.  Using their event related hashtags in your social media communications might even garner you a “retweet” or “like”, giving you exposure to others followers of the event (or even potentially new customers).  The event will use their electronic communications to promote things like, when registration opens, when early bird discounts expire or when they have booked an exciting keynote or sponsor.

Schedule meetings in advance.
Review the schedule in advance of the event and determine what panels, keynotes or workshops are going to be of greatest interest to you.  Armed with your event related agenda, try to schedule a few meetings with people in your network who are from the area or are attending the event as well.  Having a few key meetings already set up, will help ensure you are able to get the most out of your time away from the office.

Follow the dress code.
This seems pretty obvious, but you would be surprised!  It’s important for you to be comfortable and you have a long day ahead you, but following the event suggested dress code will ensure you present yourself as the well prepared professional you are.  If you are unable to determine the dress code, by the type of event, or pictures from the previous events, just be sure to dress for success!

Bring a lot of business cards.
Again, obvious but important enough it bares mentioning.  Make sure you have more than enough business cards with you at all times.   After you have had a conversation with someone and have swapped cards, take a few seconds and jot down some notes about your chat.  You don’t want to miss an opportunity when you are sorting through your contacts and following up.  You stand to meet a lot of people and have a lot of conversations to remember.

Network! Talk to people!
Understandably this, for some, is easier said than done.  But that’s why you are there; don’t miss out on the opportunity to make a valuable connection.  If you’re a little new to attending industry events, a good conversation starter to ask a fellow attendee is what brings them to that event.  This question is great because it encourages them to identify their goals and objectives to you right away.  Their answer should set you up to ask more relevant or engaging questions.  Another easy icebreaker is asking what they thought of the most recent speaker/panel/workshop.
Practice your elevator pitch, you are going to have to say it a lot — and if you haven’t already, read up on the latest industry news prior to the conference.

Position yourself as an expert.
Becoming and staying active in your industry could help you to develop a reputation as an expert to your industry peers and clients.  Those who are able to separate themselves as a leader could be asked to speak at events or write articles for related industry publications.  Your existing and new clients will feel good about doing business with someone who is celebrated by their industry.

Try to have fun.
Being in business should be rewarding and fun.  Industry conferences can add a layer of enjoyment to managing your company’s growth.  Conferences and networking events add a valuable social aspect to your business development and branding efforts.  Some events have fun activities such as group exercise, golf, or tours of the host city.  If time and budget permit, it’s worth taking an extra day at the beginning or end of the trip to explore a new city.  Attending an event and maximizing your meeting opportunities can be tiring, especially if you went to a great city and only saw the inside of a hotel!

But most importantly, follow up!
After the conference, send a quick message to those you connected with the most.  Don’t send out a generic email – make sure you personalize it.

Jennifer Kalanda
Marketing & Events Coordinator






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Funding Your Start-up

Posted on December 11 2014 | Author: Kelly Laidlaw

Being your own boss and following your true passion are among the many factors that entice thousands of Canadians each year to start their own businesses. In fact, a study by the Wharton School of Business found that grads who started their own businesses reported the highest levels of career satisfaction, regardless of how much money they earned. However, no one said that starting a company would be easy. Entrepreneurs often report that the hardest part of starting a new business is raising the initial start-up money. Luckily there are several ways to do this.

Kelly blog funding

The Three Fs:
The first people that many entrepreneurs pitch to are the proverbial three Fs- friends, family and fools. This can be a fast way to get interest-free loans. However, mixing business with your personal life can get messy. To avoid ruining close relationships you may want to show them your business plan, let them know how much you’ve already invested into the business, and establish clear time lines as to when you’ll pay them back. If you find that your loved ones are weary of loaning money (perhaps they’re jaded from an annoying uncle’s get rich-quick-schemes) then take a look at the following options.

Personal Savings:
Many entrepreneurs start their businesses from their own savings. This is a good strategy since it allows you to maintain control over your company. It also shows investors and lenders that you have risked something of your own. This is a requirement to get many business loans. After all, if you aren’t willing to invest in your own company, how can you expect others to?

Bootstrapping:
Some businesses can be built up quickly enough to make a profit without getting investors involved. This can be done in some sectors such as the service industry, where there isn’t much initial capital needed for start-up expenses like employees or rent. Entrepreneurs can use their savings to get the business up and running, and then use the profits from each sale to continue to grow the company.

Debt Financing:
There are several types of debt financing, which are essentially loans that are paid back with interest. This is a good approach to getting funds relatively fast. Lenders want to make sure you have the following:

  • Personal collateral
  • A sound business plan
  • Realistic projected cash flow
  • A strong management team
  • Good credit rating
  • Commitment of your own money to the business

For more information on debt financing, click here.

Government Funding:
There are many options for government financing to either start or to expand your business. These include grants, contributions, loan guarantees and subsidies. The Canada Business Network site allows you to browse different government financing. The most desirable type of government funding is grants because they provide you with free money that you don’t need to pay back. It can take anywhere from 2 to 18 months to receive this funding. Understandably, you will need to be prepared to outline in great detail every aspect of your business and what the grant money will go toward.

Private Investors:
Angel investors are wealthy individuals who invest their own money in the hopes of getting a return from a business opportunity. Their investments usually range from $25,000 to $100,000.  Some angel investors act very quickly, while others take their time before investing. If you are comfortable giving up equity for financing, this can be a smart solution to raise capital. Though angel investors’ involvement levels vary, they can serve as a valuable mentor since many are entrepreneurs themselves who have successfully built and sold companies. Since they are risking their own money, it is in the angel investor’s best interest to coach you and to help your company thrive. 

Venture capital is money provided to start-ups from a fund, which is a pool of money that was raised through individuals or companies who have money to invest.  Venture capitalists usually invest larger amounts of capital than angel investors, and typically invest after the first round of seed funding.  They are looking to invest in innovative technologies with high-growth potential. Venture capital can be an excellent option for companies who are too small to ether raise money in the public markets or to complete a debt offering.

Harnessing the Crowd:
Crowdfunding is a valuable tool for entrepreneurs and businesses looking to bypass traditional sources of funding. Crowdfunding usually raises money through collecting funds from a large amount of people, or the ‘crowd’.  This is done via the Internet on sites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter.  Project creators document their ideas on the website in hopes of getting donations and pre-selling their products. Crowdfunding can be a fast way to raise money, but even if your venture doesn’t get funded, at least you’ll get to test your business idea and get exposure. Keep in mind that you will need to carefully consider your company structure to ensure that you can maintain control of your business, since the number of shareholders could dramatically increase after crowdfunding. Recently, some provinces have been considering crowdfunding. In December 2013 Saskatchewan became the only Canadian province to have a crowdfunding specific prospectus exemption. Currently, there are no websites offering equity crowdfunding in Saskatchewan. Once equity crowdfunding websites are launched, the Government of Saskachewan’s Financial and Consumer and Affairs website will post them here, so stay tuned!

Kelly Laidlaw
Project Coordinator






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Due Diligence - An exercise in organization and presentation

Posted on December 04 2014 | Author: Ingrid Fung

Ingrid DD blogAt one point or another every company will require financing. While some may be able to access capital through founders, and personal networks, most will need to raise money externally.  Potential investors of every kind are likely to require a comprehensive analysis of the business to evaluate commercial potential prior to investing in a company.

Bioenterprise offers due diligence services to companies that are looking for investment. The goal of the process is to evaluate whether the claims made by a company are supported by the information provided.  While every project has it’s own challenges, invariably the key to a smooth due diligence process is providing well-organized, comprehensive information to evaluators.  

Organization of the information you provide is key to helping your evaluators understand your argument, and analyze your business. When providing this information, it is important to approach the process much like a presentation.  Organize your information by:

  1. Telling your reviewers what you are going to tell them. You can do this in the form of a pitch deck, business plan, or executive summary.
  2. Tell them.  Provide the information.
  3. Tell them what you have told them by summarizing the conclusions they should draw from each set of information provided.

Below are several tips that can help you better organize the information you provide:

  • Organize your documents in a similar order to the way information is provided in your business plan, pitch deck, or executive summary. This will make it easier for your evaluators to follow your lines of thought, and more likely to come to the same conclusions as you. It’s much easier to agree with someone when you are presented with support for their argument each step of the way.
  • For each section or type of information you provide (e.g. Intellectual property, Financials, etc.) Include an overview document that provides some kind of narrative as to how the information or documents came to be.
  • Take time to write out brief summaries or summarize complex data into easily referencable charts and figures. Basically, what you are doing here is providing a guideline for your evaluators, and then what they should be seeing in the information you provided and how they should be seeing it.
  • Take advantage of online file sharing services to organize your documents in easily sharable ways. This way when your evaluators look at the information, they will see it in the relative order, groupings etc. designated by you. Besides climbing into your brain, this is the next best thing.
  • Take the time to rename your files, giving them easy to understand, self-explanatory names. There is nothing more frustrating than to having to open dozens of cryptically named documents to decipher their contents.

There are a number of checklists and guidelines online that give a good overview of the information a company should provide (see end of document for some suggested resources).  However the organization, and presentation of information is just as important as the documentation provided.  Providing good written summaries of the information you provide will give evaluators and analysts a road map to refer to throughout the process. Well-organized information and data will make it as easy as possible for those evaluating your company to come to the same conclusions as you!

Ingrid Fung
Senior Business Analyst, Planting & Animal Science

Sample due diligence checklists:
http://www.pioneerbusinessventures.com/downloads/MASTER%20ACQUISITION%20DUE%20DILIGENCE%20CHECKLIST.pdf
http://www.grantthornton.com/staticfiles/GTCom/Advisory/Comprehensive%20M&A%20due%20diligence%20checklist%20for%20buyers.pdf
http://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/starting-a-business/buying-a-business-due-diligence-checklist.html
http://www.meritusventures.com/template_assets/pdf/diligence.pdf






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“Your Office in your Pocket”

Posted on November 25 2014 | Author: Laura Millson

Benefits of having an Exchange Server

Many of us work on the run, -- no I will rephrase that – we all work on the run whether we admit to it or not.  With Internet access just a touch away we all love to be able to check “the status” of projects or just catch up with the office emails.   

Laura exchange blogThen there are those of us that are required to be in meetings; attend conferences and speaking engagements; to be travelling and away from the office for extended periods or have the opportunity to work from home and still need to be connected to the daily office “activity”. 

Email is a tool of today’s working society.  We all use it.  It gives us the satisfaction of making contact, a contribution and sense of productivity.  However in order to achieve that seamless automatic response we seek, you need to have access to an Exchange server to experience having what I refer to as your  “office in your pocket”.

Exchange can accommodate both PC and Mac platforms with the ability to synchronize with mobile devices to access email contacts and calendars from blackberry, iphone and android.  It allows you to access email anywhere  (in the world) with security and backup features that are seamless. It gives you massive amounts of storage space, control of your email client  (Outlook) with access to sharing features (like folders, notes and calendars), adding and deleting accounts, size of attachments and the comfort of backup.  Yes, backup!  So when your hard drive fails (and they do!), or your email account is corrupted, restoring your information is as simple as connecting to the Exchange server.  An administrators dream!

You can also access your mailbox using OWA (Outlook Web App) a browser based email client, which allows you to access your Microsoft Exchange Server mailbox from almost any web browser.

So What Exactly is an Exchange Server?
The Microsoft Exchange server application feeds data to a client application (in most cases Microsoft Outlook) which then allows you to use the features of  email, contact management and calendars simple and trouble-free.

Primarily designed for businesses Exchange is also suited for individuals who want flexibility from their mail platform that is not provided by other webmail clients or POP3 email accounts are capable of providing.

So what are the benefits of using Microsoft Exchange Server?

  • Security – confidentiality without compromise by outside sources
  • Backup – knowing that an email account is never lost and can always be retrieved
  • Accessibility – anywhere in the world with access to all the features of MS Outlook
  • Efficiency – easy to find and fix issues with monitoring capabilities to detect issues quickly before it disrupts business. 

Many tasks required to keep MS Exchange operating properly are automated allowing administrators more time to deal with more pressing issues.

There are many benefits to using Microsoft Exchange Server and many businesses are discovering that this is a program that they cannot do without.  Its worth looking into.

Laura Millson
Entrepreneur Services and Office Operations Coordinator

 

Microsoft Exchange Top Features

 






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Marketing in a Browsing Society (3 of 4)

Posted on October 27 2014 | Author: Carol Culhane

The 4 p's of marketing
This third edition of Food Fax 2014 delves into the effect of the Internet on “price”, one of the four p’s of the Marketing Mix, which collectively are place, product, price, promotion.

Three Big Hits on the Pocketbook
Consistent with previous findings, Statistics Canada’s most recent Survey of Household Spending (2012 data, released 2014) identifies the major costs effecting Canadian households: shelter (28.1%), transportation (19.9%) and food (13.8%).

Shelter and Real Estate Data Gaps
The Internet has not exerted any downward pressure on housing costs in Canada. The International Monetary Fund warns that Canada has the most overvalued housing market in the world. Low mortgage rates since 2008, which have spurred demand and inflated prices, is only one factor. Real estate boards closely hold critical, raw, property data, such that banks, governments and consumers have access only to the data the boards choose to release. In 2013, the Competition Bureau sued the TREB (Toronto Real Estate Board) as to this anti- competitive behaviour, and lost on a technicality. The court ruled that TREB was inaptly cited under section 79 of the Competition Act, rather than section 90 which deals with trade associations (even though they do not have competitors per se). The issue continues to simmer; the Huffington Post recently published a series on real estate data gaps.

Transportation and Transparency
At 2 people per sq. km, Canada has one of the lowest population densities on the planet, resulting in hefty long-distance phone bills and disproportionate transportation expenses. Transparency of dealer costs is on call at sites such as CarCostCanada.com and Unhaggle.com. However, a prospective buyer may need to adjust their expectations. As Cars.Cost Helper in the USA forewarns, demand can outstrip supply in specific regions - such as Toyota’s Prius® in the States of California and Massachusetts - allowing the dealer to close at the MSRP or higher.

Food: Small Ticket, Big Purchase
While the ticket price may be small, the collective impact is significant. In its most recent estimate (May 2013), the USDA estimated the monthly moderate-cost food budget for a family of four to be US$750 (excluding foodservice). The same family unit in Canada has a monthly expenditure of C$680 (Statistics Canada, 2012 data published 2014) on grocery food and C$240 on foodservice purchases.

In Canada, all the major grocers publish their flyers online, allowing the same compare-and-shop as the hardcopy version. Loblaw's Weekly Flyer can be matched to your neighbourhood store; Sobey's aggressively blocks entry to their website until a drop-down registration form to receive an electronic weekly flyer is either completed or declined. While there are currently no formal studies which confirm that the Internet has resulted in lower food prices, in the USA, CompareGroceryPrices.org has made an attempt to achieve just that. The upstart lists the prices of select foods as sold at Aldi’s®, Trader Joe’s®, Kroger® and Publix®, and encourages users to suggest new products and additional stores.

Big Mac Index & Interactive Currency
Burgernomics was created by The Economist in 1986 as a lighthearted way to quickly determine if exchange currencies are correct, and to make exchange-rate theory “more digestible”.
“... the Big Mac Index has become a global standard, included in several economic textbooks and the subject of at least 20 academic studies. For those who take their fast food more seriously, we have also calculated a gourmet version of the index.”

As of July 2014, against the Euro, the C$ was over- valued by 6.0%, and the US$ was under-valued by 3.2%. While The Big Mac Index has many critics, its supporters maintain it some legitimacy. When the Euro was first launched in 1999, its over-valuation was correctly reported by The Big Mac Index. Regardless, Burgernomics continues to entertain professional and armchair economists, online.

Carol T. Culhane, PHEc, MBA
President, International Food Focus Ltd.
Bioenterprise Regulatory Advisor
 

 






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Ontario Biomass Producer Cooperative Field Event

Posted on October 08 2014 | Author: Doug Knox

DK switchgrassOn September 5, 2014, biomass growers and interested farm producers gathered to exchange information and views on the potential for purpose grown biomass crops. The event was hosted by Don Nott at his farm facility near Clinton, Ontario. The event attracted close to a hundred participants from near and far.  Some notable experts from Quebec and Pennsylvania were in attendance, and brought valuable insights into the specifics of switchgrass — in particular, for new genetics that exhibit better yields, quality and early vigor among other traits. While the crop is showing great promise from an agronomic perspective, there is still a great deal to be done to develop a market for the harvest.

The current information on the business case for purpose grown biomass can be found in the 2012 assessment study and available from the OFA at the following link.

Anyone interested in acquiring more information on the association can contact Urs Eggimann, urs.eggimann@ontariobiomass.com.






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Marketing in a Browsing Society (2 of 4)

Posted on September 25 2014 | Author: Carol Culhane

The 4 p’s of marketing
This second edition of Food Fax 2014 delves into the effect of the Internet on “product”, one of the four p’s of the Marketing Mix, which collectively are place, product, price, promotion. The review begins with a commentary on the Internet itself as a product and a service.

NET Neutrality
Recently, several stakeholders have united to ensure equal access to the Internet by every person with an online hookup, so as to maintain the ‘Net as the information gateway, data pool and socio- economic leveler it has become. The basic premise holds that the WWW must not be deliberately filtered or withheld by any one government, corporation, NGO or individual. In April, Brazil hosted an internet governance conference, NETMundial, attended by 1200+ delegates from a cross-section of the globe, to achieve two goals: assessment of the equality of the Internet’s accessibility, and, delineated action to either return to a state of universal fairness or secure it for the future. The general consensus reveals that stakeholders are satisfied with the current level of global access, however, intervention is needed to retain neutrality from this point forward. One journalist summed up the concluding sentiment with a quote from di Lampedusa’s classic novel The Leopard “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change”.

Food E-vangelists
Corporations have had to relinquish a degree of brand ownership and control to consumers, who through social media, can dictate product composition. Ingredient statements come under scrutiny at the site www.whatsinthisstuff.com. Teenager-cum-food critic Sarah Kavanagh has mounted successful online campaigns to remove – to name a few – brominated vegetable oil from PoweradeTM (Coca-Cola) and GatoradeTM (Pepsico) as well as the dough proofer azodicarbonamide from Subway’sTM buns.

For every cloud...
It’s not all downside. Both local and global mandate products can now profitably penetrate niche markets, owing to an online presence and IT.

...there is a silver lining
Any recall of clouds’ illusions is quickly resolved in the Financial Times’ instructive Understanding Cloud Computing, the forerunner to an article specific to product development Power to the People on Product Design [©The Financial Times Limited 2014].

FT concludes that today’s winning and innovative manufacturer will use cloud technology to locate, validate and define niche markets, then, create an infrastructure to service heretofore economically- prohibitive or remote segments, chiefly through R&D cost reduction and flexible manufacturing.

“chocolate made with cloud” ©Lindt Ltd.
The Economist is not where one would expect to find a full-page ad for chocolates, claiming “now Lindt can deliver custom chocolates to consumers anywhere in the [UK, US, etc.]”. This new LindtTM- IBMTM joint venture, more commonly promoted through you tube videos and business commentary, features customization and scale as a dynamic duo, and credits the cloud for tripled chocolate sales volume from mobile devices alone. In another application, cloud technology can enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of food safety programs. Cloud-based food safety management systems integrates several platforms (HACCP, BRC, FSMA, etc.) and can instantly produce traceability records.

“On cloud nine” has taken on a new meaning in the 21st Century.

Carol T. Culhane, PHEc, MBA
President, International Food Focus Ltd.
Bioenterprise Regulatory Advisor






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