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Alta. sheep group refocuses on meat

The Alberta Sheep and Wool Commission will officially rebrand itself Feb. 1 to reflect its producer members’ focus on the meat market.

Provincial Agriculture Minister George Groeneveld on Wednesday approved an order in council to change the commission’s name to Alberta Lamb Producers, effective Sunday (Feb. 1).

The commission’s directors at their Dec. 10 meeting agreed to ask the Marketing Council of Alberta to go to the provincial cabinet to get approval for a Feb. 1 name change.

“The primary reason is to support our industry in implementing the new vision,” the commission said on its website last fall while planning the changeover.

“While wool, breeding stock, genetics, and other byproducts are very valuable aspects of the industry… lamb is the primary product,” the commission wrote.

The commission said it can better support consumer awareness, maintain its strategic focus and keep the Alberta lamb brand consistent if it keeps “the main thing” in mind, citing Alberta Beef Producers and Alberta Pork as examples. The commission already operates a consumer website seeking to build an “Alberta Lamb” brand.

“Alberta Lamb Producers together with industry stakeholders will foster a renewed enthusiasm, pride and energy to nurture the growth and prosperity of the sheep industry in Alberta and in Canada,” the commission said. “Wherever the industry is showcased it will continue to focus on the primary industry product: young, tender, delicious Alberta lamb.”

In confirming that its name change has been approved, the commission said on its site that consumer demand is rising steadily for lamb, and Alberta lamb in particular.

Canadian lamb currently fills only 50 per cent of the current market, the commission said, “despite the fact that restaurants and retailers alike are keen to serve local product.

“(I)t is our mission to ensure that all Alberta sheep producers have the information, training and resources necessary to take full advantage of this enormous growth and potential.”

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