Here’s a one-on-one Q&A with John Raines, president of Telus Agriculture & Consumer Goods as it launches its new strategy.
Why did you take on this new role with TELUS Agriculture & Consumer Goods?
It’s a handful of things. First, TELUS has made significant investments to be one of the largest global insights and analytics companies focused on the food and consumer goods value chain. Second, TELUS Agriculture & Consumer Goods is uniquely positioned as part of a global communications technology company with the digitization of agriculture and the expansion of 5G. Third, my background and history in ag combined with TELUS’ clear appetite in this area give an opportunity for growth and me to contribute.
What is your team working on?
Our mission is simple but bold: create better producer to consumer outcomes. We know there is a significant information gap that the food and consumer goods value chain has not yet resolved where we can create new and unique value. If you think about the supply chain today, we are a $10 trillion industry when you go from the producer to the consumer. Yet, I don’t think you can find anyone that couldn’t tell you the supply chain has had a lot of struggles. So we believe in using data insights and analytics to improve the outcome from production to delivery of goods–from the farm gate to the dinner plate. This means improving the quality, safety, reliability and affordability of our food supply.
We aren’t building a better seed product. We aren’t building a package or a good to be consumed. Our role is to help the companies and retailers who are helping the farmers get products, or a producer grow a cow, and digitize the information flow.
What is the TELUS Agriculture & Consumer Goods’ footprint today?
We are the third largest in trade promotions for food companies at the consumer level. We are doing business today with 70 of the top 100 CPG companies globally. We are doing business with 9 of the 10 largest agribusinesses. In a $40 billion crop protection business, we fulfill rebates in that space as well. With geospatial data capture, and being an agronomically-based business, we have extended capabilities. Our strategy is to build an Ag Data Exchange we call ADX to bring digital connectivity of all the activity between the bookends.
What milestones as of now are you proud of?
When I joined, we just completed the Blacksmith Applications integration, which is a big part of the food, beverage and consumer goods business. This acquisition helped expand our capabilities as well as our customer base in that market, contributing to an expansion of our business strategy to serve the entire value chain. We’ve just evolved our name from TELUS Agriculture to reflect that widened scope and our intent to be the best and largest, global independent provider of digital technologies and data driven insights, connecting producers to consumers across the agricultural, food and packaged goods industries.
We’ve come a long way with the connectivity aspect discussed previously. And after 11 acquisitions, we are operating on one set of books, and with a cohesive go-to-market strategy as one brand.
We are continuing to grow with 37% year over year growth. And first and foremost, we have maintained TELUS Agriculture & Consumer Goods’ focus on the customer.
What should U.S. ag retailers know about TELUS Agriculture & Consumer Goods?
Our role is to make ag retailers more efficient, and more proficient with their grower. Our focus is to enable them–we want to make them more profitable and limit their risk. For our agronomy based business, we know there are key functions in ag retail in selling seed, fertilizer and crop protection products. We can help them capture data on their sales, analyze their business data, stand it up to their grower, and stand it up to the regulatory agency.
What is your vision for TELUS Agriculture & Consumer Goods?
We want to accelerate information exchange. Digitizing and connecting the food and consumer goods value chain is at the core of our strategy. We intend to enable a much more prospective use of information and create real-time data insights for the ag retailers, growers and consumers.