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A Growing Market 

Graduates are prepared with the tools to specialize in an industry that is important to everyone: food

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A career in agriculture goes beyond farmers and retail—there’s a middle holding those two together. Dalhousie’s International Food Business program (IFB), offered at Dalhousie’s Agricultural campus in Truro, Nova Scotia, is the only dual-degree program of its kind. Upon graduation, students receive a Bachelor degree in Agriculture from Dalhousie University, and a Bachelor degree in Business Administration from Aeres University in the Netherlands.

IFB offers students the opportunity to acquire skills within a variety of farm-to-fork environments, while gaining real-world experiences through work placements within Europe and North America. Through an engaging approach to learning in the classroom and beyond, graduates are prepared to specialize in an industry important to everyone—food.

Susan Sipos was drawn to IFB for this exact real-world perspective on education, as well as its collaborative nature.

Not only does Sipos describe this program as having been “more hands-on than many degrees,” but she also says it’s one that broadened her scope beyond the Canadian agri-business into the entire food industry.

“Having an international experience during your education is such a great opportunity to receive a global perspective of the food industry,” Sipos says about spending her second year in the Netherlands, “while also sharing ideas with likeminded people from different countries and seeing the global supply chain in action.”

“Awareness around food has changed, especially with COVID-19,” Sipos explains. “The value of food has changed through the pandemic and we’re placing more of an emphasis on food than we have in the past.” Sipos adds that there’s an entire “in-between” within our food systems. It’s not just farmers to retail; there’s an entire supply chain in between, holding those two together.This year has seen those supplies and demands be put to the test and shift as buying patterns change.

Sipos and her classmates developed a food business as one of their projects and were guided through the entire professional industry process, including building budgets, marketing and promotion plans. “It taught me great collaborative skills, time management and communication skills,” she adds.

By the end of her fourth year in IFB, Sipos became one of four students from Dalhousie chosen to take part in the Career Pathways program through the Canadian Produce Marketing Association and found a job straight out of university in the produce industry in Ontario.

The skills that Sipos gained from the IFB program were invaluable to her career and has led her to a position as Account Manager at Nova Agri, a family-run fruit and vegetable grower/packer in the Annapolis Valley. While managing sales, accounts receivables and freight to National Retail customers, Sipos also balances another job as the Business Development and Marketing Manager for SKUFood.

Sipos works with clients to help get their products on retail shelves and be successful in the marketplace, all while managing digital platforms and connecting producers to suppliers with online tools that build small businesses based on retail trends.

Not only did IFB perfectly mix Sipos’ love of food and travel, but the program also taught her the skills she needed to keep up with current and future market changes and pivots within the agricultural sector. Her education also taught foresight, giving her the ability to anticipate the needs of small businesses she works with. IFB wasn’t just perfect on paper for Sipos, but in practice as well.

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