Haulin’ Oats from Farm to Glass

Haulin’ Oats from Farm to Glass

How does food get from the farm to the table? It’s a question that consumers are increasingly conscious of when they’re making choices at the grocery store.

In the case of CO-OP GOLD PURE® Oat Beverage, we’ve answered that question right on the package: Co-op is working closely with Cas-Grain Farms, who grow the oats. The beverage is processed in Saskatoon and then the finished product is sent to Co-op Food Store shelves. It’s something that only Co-op can do, thanks to our unique relationships with growers and producers. Through primary production, manufacturing, distribution and store sales, Co-op is behind farmers and producers every step of the way.

“Co-op is such an understanding partner,” Brett Casavant said. “They work with farmers everyday so it’s easy to have a good relationship with them because they understand us and we understand them.”

It Starts at the Farm

Brett and his brother Vince run Cas-Grain Farms, an operation near Tisdale, Saskatchewan, that’s been in their family for more than a century. They grow crops such as canola, wheat, faba beans, peas, and, of course, oats, which were 40 per cent of their acres in 2022.

“They’re a little bit harder to grow than wheat,” explained Brett, who runs the value-added side of Cas-Grain Farms. “But they yield well… our seasons and our weather are very suitable to growing good oats.”

Through the development of Co-op’s new oat beverage, the Casavants have become part of Co-op’s GROWN WITH PURPOSE® program, a forward-thinking sustainability program rooted in agronomy and the 4Rs of nutrient management. It’s a program designed to evaluate on-farm practices and identify strategies to improve farm performance, such as crop plans that drive nutrient-use efficiency and other performance metrics, and to demonstrate leadership in farm stewardship. That’s an important goal for growers and consumers alike — the Casavants included.

“Grown with Purpose directly matches what our corporate internal vision is,” said Vince, who manages the primary production aspect of their business. “We want to grow it, to be able to produce a product that is very high quality, very healthy, nutritious and safe for our families and the rest of the families in Western Canada.”

As a zero-till farm, the Casavants seed and fertilize at the same time in the spring to minimize fuel usage and carbon release out of the soils, and to reduce nitrogen lost to the environment through volatilization. Being mindful of air, soil and water quality today is a sound strategy that leaves healthy fields for the next generation.

Going from Grain to Glass

Co-op Gold Pure Oat Beverage not only lists ingredients from Saskatchewan, it’s processed there, too. After the oats are processed at the Casavants’ 48,000 tonne terminal, they’re sent to the Food Centre in Saskatoon.

A proprietary method turns the oats into an extremely fine liquid and retains much of the protein, fibre and essential nutrients that usually get stripped away by other oat beverage processes. Then it’s packaged into an aseptic pouch that uses less plastic than conventional cartons. The process means it doesn’t have to be refrigerated on its way to the store shelves.

The result is a delicious, local beverage that uses less energy to transport and store and travels a shorter distance to reach your local Co-op.

Growing Together

Selling local products makes sense for our local economies, and Co-op is uniquely positioned to help producers reach Western Canadian consumers.

Farmers and producers count on their local Co-op for the products and services they need to help build, equip, feed, fuel and grow their operations. Most Western Canadian consumers are more familiar with Co-op at the retail level, though, and Co-op Food Stores make it easy for them to find products from close to home.

“The icing on the cake there is the fact that you’re producing it and then your family’s consuming that value-added product that came from your farm or your neighbour’s farm,” said Vince. “We’ve got some excellent producers in this part of the world.”

Working with producers like Brett and Vince Casavant demonstrates Co-op’s commitment to sourcing high-quality local products for our members and customers. It’s an oatally beneficial relationship: one that helps Western Canadian small businesses, local communities and families grow.

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