People packed the Claresholm Legion last week to learn more about the future of the agri-food industry.

Former Foothills MP and past President and CEO of CropLife Canada, Ted Menzies, spoke at the event put on by the Claresholm and District Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, March 26, and says it's important to recognize people's diets are changing.

"For those who are concerned about their livestock herd, beef will always be there. But the younger generation is wanting more plant proteins. Whether it's right, wrong, or indifferent, it doesn't matter. They're the consumer and they're right."

Menzies says the next question when tapping into the agri-food market is exploring how you can meet the needs of consumers by adding value to your product.

"Maybe those of us who are growing grain right now, peas, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans and even corn, should say, instead of loading it in our trucks and hauling it to a terminal, maybe we should process it for the fractionated products that we can take out of it."

He says the main message he wanted his community to take home from the event was they can be apart of this evolving industry.

"We're so stuck on doing it the old way. Exporting our wheat, exporting our barley to make beer in China. Why shouldn't we do something with it here?," he said. "This little community of  Claresholm has water, we've got people, we've got land and we've got a low cost base. Come and set up your business here."

During his presentation, Menzies pointed interested community members towards Plant Industry Canada, who are willing to get financially involved, as well as Claresholm's Economic Development officer to use as resources.


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