When it comes to grain processing and food supply, Saskatchewan has a global reach.
Did you know that oats produced in Saskatchewan end up in Post breakfast cereals, Clif bars and Nature Valley granola bars?
Both oats and flax are nutritional and affordable. As a traveler always on the move, I often eat oatmeal for breakfast and sprinkle flax into smoothies. They are good for the heart and full of fibre.
Many Saskatchewan farmers grow oats and flax. I grew up on a farm and often climbed into the semi with my dad to haul a load of grain to the inland terminal. What I didn’t know was what happened to the grain once it disappeared down the grate in the unloading bay.
Recently, I visited Grain Millers and TA Foods in Yorkton, where I saw first-hand the processing of both oats and flax. This helped me gain a deeper appreciation for the impact Saskatchewan’s crops have within the province and around the world.
Saskatchewan accounts for 70 per cent of Canada’s flaxseed production, representing 25 per cent of world production. We’re also a major supplier of oats, making up the majority of world oat trade.
Grain Millers in Yorkton processes 150,000 tonnes of raw oats every year. And they employ 125 people—from welders and millwrights to office administrators.
At Grain Millers, I followed the journey oats take, observing how they get tested for moisture content and thickness in the laboratory, to the processing floor where they are dehulled, steamed and processed.
Next, we visited the warehouse where 1,800-pound pallets of oats waited for shipment by truck, rail and sea container to customers around the world.
TA Foods has been processing grain since the early 1980s. Since 2005, they’ve processed only flax. They turn the seed into ground flax, oil and meal for customers to purchase. They are the only business in Canada that is full spectrum for flaxseed processing.
At TA Foods, I toured the processing floor and warehouse, saw the bins the grain is stored in, as well as the bottling and packaging areas where the product gets ready to ship.
Both Grain Millers’ and TA Foods’ products are available in local grocery stores. In fact, most retailers in Canada buy oats directly from Grain Millers. TA Foods has their own line of flax products, but they also supply to Canada’s Loblaws, Safeway and Superstore as well as Bulk Barn and Co-op.
The majority of oats and flax purchased by the two companies is sourced from the Saskatchewan prairies. It arrives in Yorkton by semis and grain trucks.
Approximately 80 per cent of Grain Millers’ products are shipped to the United States. The rest stays in Canada or ships globally to countries like France, the Philippines and China.
TA Foods has a similar market—selling to the United States, Japan, India and South Korea.
From field to processing plant to plate, Saskatchewan’s farmers and processors contribute greatly to feeding a growing global population.