Business Bulletins News

IW Business Bulletin – June 10, 2022

Nutrien Allan Potash Facility. Photo provided by Nutrien.

Nutrien to increase production and jobs in Saskatchewan

Nutrien announced this week that it will increase fertilizer production in the province due to need within the market, and will add 350 people to its operations.

“The challenge of feeding a growing world has never been clearer as global supply constraints have contributed to higher commodity prices and escalated concerns for global food security. There is no simple or fast solution to overcome this challenge and we see potential for multi-year strength in agriculture and crop input market fundamentals,” said Ken Seitz, Nutrien’s interim president and CEO at its investor update on June 9. “Nutrien’s integrated business is best positioned to respond to these supply challenges and help sustainably feed a growing world. We are safely bringing on additional low-cost potash and nitrogen production from our existing facilities, while delivering the products, services and solutions growers need through our leading global Retail network.”

Nutrien will accelerate the ramp-up of its annual potash production capability to 18 million tonnes by 2025, increasing production by more than 5 million tonnes, or 40 percent, compared to their production in 2020. The growth will also require the addition of personnel, with the company anticipating hiring and training of 350 people.

Earlier this year, BHP announced it would accelerate the construction of its Jansen potash project to meet market demand, and K+S Potash announced it would also double production at its Bethune operation.

Saskatoon startups off to Startupfest

Three Saskatoon tech startups will travel to Montreal’s Startupfest in July, to meet investors, mentors and technology experts that can help the companies scale. The three companies – eHelply SuperStack, alto, and Let’s Camp – were part of SREDA’s entrepreneurship program, The Tech Trip.

“Back by popular demand, The Tech Trip gives a boost to Saskatoon‐based entrepreneurs in taking their tech companies to the next level and scale,” said Alex Fallon, president and CEO at SREDA. “You can be the best in the world from anywhere in the world, and Saskatoon’s tech companies are a prime example of this. The Tech Trip will help these companies meet the right investors, partners and ideas to fast track their scale up plans. We are excited for them to represent Saskatoon in Montreal at Startupfest.”

Neighbourly to acquire Rubicon Pharmacies

Toronto-based pharmacy chain Neighbourly has cleared the Competition Bureau’s review of its acquisition of Regina’s Rubicon Pharmacies network.

“We are pleased that the Competition Bureau has concluded its review of this combination of Canada’s community pharmacy leaders, said Chris Gardner, Neighbourly’s CEO on June 7. “The acquisition of Rubicon will ideally position Neighbourly to continue to grow its presence across Canada and expand its role as a leader in community pharmacy. Rubicon’s pharmacies are similar to our own, acting as the centre of healthcare delivery for smaller, underserved communities. However, our greatest similarity is our shared values: both companies place an unmatched priority upon patient-focused care.

Neighbourly will sell two pharmacy locations in Saskatchewan as part of the requirements from the Competition Bureau. The acquisition of Rubicon Pharmacies will grow Neighbourly’s network in Western Canada, adding 100 locations to the company and bringing their total footprint to 271 across Canada.

Staples to acquire Supreme Basics

Staples Canada has struck a deal to acquire Regina-based Supreme Basics and Quebec’s Denis Office Supplies and Furniture.

“We are pleased to partner with Denis and Supreme to bring together three exceptional Canadian brands to amplify the way we support businesses across the country, said David Boone, CEO at Staples Canada on June 8. “In working together, we will strengthen and grow our product and services offering, while continuing to provide the exceptional customer service that our brands are known for.

Supreme Basics started in 1974. The family-owned firm has locations in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario with its corporate office in Regina.

Saskatchewan Construction Association president and CEO announces departure

Mark Cooper, the Saskatchewan Construction Association (SKCA) president and CEO, is stepping down after nine years with the organization. Cooper will head to a role as CEO at Prairie Clean Energy, a Saskatchewan-based energy company focused on renewable biomass fuel. Cooper will remain as SKCA president and CEO until the fall.

Flair Airlines suspends service at YQR and Swoop starts

Edmonton-based budget airline Flair has suspended air service to and from Regina, due to “aircraft delivery delays. Flair, which launched in Regina in 2020, says that it hopes to return to the market soon. Swoop, its low-cost competitor, launches its Regina twice-a-week routes on June 16, flying to Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto.

Avena Foods joins consortium and sees investment from Protein Industries Canada

Regina’s Avena Foods has joined a new group of Canadian companies to innovate on oat-based products. Avena, along with Plant Veda Foods Ltd., HPP Canada and Thirstea Beverages Ltd. – and investment from Protein Industries Canada – will develop and commercialize cost-effective oat concentrates for plant-based food and beverage products.

“We are excited to be launching this collaborative Canadian project with customers, farmers, employees, service providers, technical experts and Protein Industries Canada,” said Avena Foods CEO Gord Flaten. “Support from Protein Industries Canada is critical in transitioning Avena’s products from promising food ingredients to an innovative suite of clean-label, nutritious and functional ingredients for food manufacturers. This project will help open up and expand important markets for farmers and provide significant benefits to consumers.”

Avena and Plant Veda will work together to turn Avena’s specialty milled oat flours into oat concentrates. Those concentrates will be supplied to Thirstea Beverages (and others), and Plant Veda and HPP Canada will focus on extending the shelf life of the concentrates with high pressures and no preservatives or chemicals.

Jobs numbers up in Saskatchewan

Statistics Canada job numbers are out for May 2022, and Saskatchewan added 19,800 jobs (all full-time) in the month – up by 3.5 per cent from the same time last year. The province’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate slid to 4.8 per cent in May 2022, a decrease from 6.1 per cent a year ago and below the national rate of 5.1 per cent. Some all-time employment records were made in May 2022, including overall employment at 587,000, female employment at 272,300, off-reserve Indigenous employment at 65,800, and off-reserve Indigenous full-time employment at 54,100.

Coming soon: Canada’s Farm Show – June 21 to 23, 2022.

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