Agrocorp Canada, a subsidiary of agricultural trading powerhouse Agrocorp International PTE ltd based out of Singapore, was formed out of the family business IT&T Trading in 2009. The economic and trade conditions of 2008 meant that businesses had to rethink their position in the marketplace. “We had been dealing with Agrocorp International for a few years. Culturally, we were both family businesses and shared the same values. Agrocorp was and continues to grow very fast globally so it was a good fit for our young team,” said Colin Topham, Managing Director of Agrocorp Canada.
Canada, a leader in the pulse trade industry, meets the needs of over 150 countries. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Canada has emerged as the world’s largest exporter of lentils and peas. Pulse Canada cites that Canada is responsible for approximately 35 per cent of global pulse trade every year.
Agrocorp Canada just launched Agrocorp’s first asset globally, a state of the art high throughput grain and pulse processing facility in Moosejaw, Sask. and has since entered a purchase agreement on a second facility in Innisfail, Alta.
Initially an exporter of Canadian pulses supplying whole and split peas, lentils, chickpeas and beans, the deregulation of the Canadian wheat board has led to increased opportunities, and Agrocorp Canada now trades all types of Canadian agricultural commodities. Population growth and globalization have Agrocorp striving to meet the demand for pulses oilseeds and grains, common staples in many households today. Agrocorp International now exports 800,000 metric tonnes of agricultural commodities out of Canada annually.
In this environment, 60 per cent of Agrocorp’s exports are split between India ( 35 per cent) and China (25 per cent), with the balance going to the India Sub Continent, South East Asia, Mexico, South America, the Middle East and North Africa. These large volumes are handled by a relatively small team; Agrocorp Canada is currently at 20 employees. we are on a sustained growth path building our teams in Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C. and this is going to be our focus this year,” says Topham.
The company, an advocate of Canadian commodities, is an active member of the Canadian Special Crops Association where Topham sits as a member, the Alberta Pulse Growers, Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership, the Canadian Grain & Oilseed Exporters Association, and is licensed and bonded by the Canadian Grain Commission.
The pulse trade is not without its challenges. Two major ones being market risk and logistics. International trade is inherently risky, moving product from country to country has every sort of potential problem scenario just waiting to happen. But in commodity markets this is exacerbated by tight margins. Managing currency and futures volatility and executing contractually are all mandatory functions, but “It’s the systems, teamwork and communication that makes or breaks you. Aligning the global offices to adapt to changing global circumstance is what is required to successfully maneuver international trade. “Vijay and Akila Iyengar and Ravi Raghavan make up the ownership of Agrocorp and even at US$2 billion in revenue they are all still very involved in the day to day opperations. Their expertise and hands-on approach are what has allowed Agrocorp to grow as it has, and it’s motivational to see that from an employee standpoint.”
“Maintaining partnerships is really at the core of this business, whether it’s our growers or suppliers in Canada or our international buyers we know that we are here because of them. On our first asset build in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan, CN Rail and the Royal Bank (RBC) were both instrumental partners in a project that changed shape many times from conceptualization to realization. I am sure we will be doing more together in the future.”
Future plans include significant growth for Agrocorp Canada. “We definitely are aggressively seeking opportunities,” explains the head of Canadian operations, “We are constantly on the lookout for additional ventures, acquisitions, or partnerships that we can enhance our global position. This past year we opened our Russia and Turkey offices and are presently studying opportunities in the U.S.”
Some of the many milestones that speak of the Agrocorp’s global successes include: being awarded the prestigious Singapore Global Trader Programme, being consistently ranked in the Singapore International 100, a national initiative to identify Singapore’s top 100 companies ranked by highest overseas revenue, and the company’s ability to handle more than three million metric tonnes of commodities annually.