Minding your business: The power of the group
Joining forces can spell success
By Hilary Davidson
First published in Chatelaine’s April 2003 ssue.
ÃÂ© Hilary Davidson
To identify potential partners, Purdy set out specific criteria. Her top priority was to ensure that the berries they produced would meet a common high standard, and since there was no grading system for saskatoon berries, she created one. “We’d once bought 6,000 pounds of berries from a grower, only to discover they were disgusting,” says Purdy. “If consumers get a bad product, it hurts all growers because [the consumer] might never buy another saskatoon berry.” Purdy’s partners had to sign contracts guaranteeing they would sell a certain percentage of their berries to Federated Co-operatives Ltd., the company that would purchase the berries for co-op retail stores. Also, Purdy approached growers in different regions to ensure geographic diversity, which would minimize the impact of crop failures on the new venture.
Purdy found six growers to work with and the group signed a deal with Federated to bring their frozen berries into 463 stores from B.C. to Manitoba. This has guaranteed a market for all of the growers involved–and has led Purdy to expand Prairie Berries’ operations, as some partner orchards have hired it to harvest and process their berries. As Purdy says, “The other growers are part of our success and we’re part of theirs.”
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