A Canadian seed testing company’s purchase by a global food safety giant is a win-win for both parties.

SGS’s recent acquisition of BioVision Seed Research means an improved offering for the newly formed company’s clients, yes. But the purchase of BioVision by SGS is bigger than that.

“From a seed industry standpoint, this takes things to the next level,” says Trevor Nysetvold, the new company’s director of seed and crop in Canada.

SGS BioVision came into existence on Nov. 3, with the announced acquisition of BioVision by SGS, a major global inspection, verification, testing and certification company.

“For BioVision and for SGS, this was a natural pairing,” says Nysetvold, the former BioVision’s president and CEO.

“SGS’ Canadian and global footprint in agriculture and food is tremendous. In fact, our company’s beginnings originate in this industry,” adds Fulvio Martinez, regional communications manager for SGS North America.

Established in 1878, SGS helped transform grain trading in Europe by offering innovative agricultural inspection services. From its early days as a grain inspection house, the company has steadily grown into the industry leader, Martinez says. This has been done through continual improvement and innovation and through supporting its customers’ operations by reducing risk and improving productivity.

Founded in 1996 and privately owned, BioVision Seed Research Ltd. employed 20 staff and generated revenues in excess of CAN$3.4 million in the last financial year. SGS today operates a network of over 2,000 offices and laboratories around the world, with more than 90,000 employees.

Going forward, SGS BioVision seed and crop services will offer comprehensive seed testing to assess the quality and health of seeds. The new company offers agricultural experience and expertise, innovative technologies, experienced staff and a unique global network.

“We hope the transfer of knowledge between us will enrich what we do at both the BioVision and SGS level,” adds Martinez. “It’s a fantastic win-win and chance for both of us to grow. We’re not this big fish swallowing BioVision; we’re excited about what BioVision brings to the network. We’re going to learn from them and tap into their experience and talent.”

Fulvio Martinez

BioVision came to the table with three accredited seed, grain and soil testing laboratories in Winnipeg, Man., as well as Edmonton and Grand Prairie, Alta., and offered testing across a broad variety of crops, supported by its fully accredited experts and laboratories (CFIA, CSI, ISO 9001:2008). “These services won’t suffer,” says Nysetvold. “Rather, they will be enhanced.”

“We also welcome a team of skilled and accredited staff, including certified seed analysts and licensed inspectors.”

The expanded offerings by SGS BioVision include a broad range of services, including seed testing for viability, vigour, germination and health; genetic and physical seed purity testing; GMO event testing; grain quality analysis; mycotoxin identification and quantification; herbicide trait testing; soil pathogen detection; and pedigreed seed crop inspection.

According to Nysetvold, existing BioVision clients will not see any difference in level of service, except the ability to provide more services.

Nysetvold says he expects further consolidation within the seed testing sector, and for others to follow the lead of SGS BioVision.

“There’s succession planning with all organizations, and there are different drivers. I do see this happening down the road with others,” he says. “For us, our reasons were very specific, very much focused on strengthening our offerings. We did this in order to broaden the scope of services we can offer to our clients.

“When we could see the strategies aligned, we realized this makes a lot of sense for us,” he adds. “And I think it will benefit the industry greatly.”

Nysetvold adds the global presence of SGS means the relationship between the two entities goes well beyond Canada.

“We’ve worked in the seed and soil matrices for years. Now we can go into tissue and residue testing, food and product safety testing — things that are so important to our clients that they can now get under one banner.”

—Janet Kanters and Marc Zienkiewicz

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