Beef Information Centre (BIC) has worked with U. S. clients for the past five years to build branded programs for Canadian beef. “The target is regional retailers who, in order to stay competitive, are looking to develop a brand — a brand that can deliver specific desirable attributes for their market, every time, and at the volumes required,” says John Gillespie, BIC chairman and a feedlot operator at Ayr, Ont.
Canada is the largest supplier of grain-fed beef to the United States with more than 300,000 tonnes exported each year. In a study of U. S. consumers done last fall, product identified as Canadian beef drew a strong response — when the U. S. consumer was asked if Canadian beef is a premium product, over 76 per cent agreed.
An example of one partnership involved Stauffers of Kissel Hill (SKH), an innovative retailer with eight stores in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania region. SKH paired with a Canadian packer to source a certified corn-fed, AAA grade Canadian beef program. The program is labelled “Stauffer’s Choice Beef” and the on-pack labels identify the beef as Product of Canada.
“The program has been extremely successful, with SKH reporting a strong double-digit increase in meat department sales over the past two years,” says Gillespie.
John Gerlach, SKH meat manager, says Canadian beef has answered their needs for the beef case. SKH shoppers have accepted the brand and its Canadian sourcing because the eating experience has consistently met or exceeded their expectations.
Another success story is the partnership between Panam Supermarkets, a Maryland-based retailer selling primarily to the Hispanic market, and the Canadian packer, Cargill Better Beef. Panam is selling product under their own brand, associated with Better Beef’s brand, and is promoting Canadian beef and its quality attributes as its point of differentiation from the local competition.
The Hispanic consumer prefers bright-red meat colour and white fat, two attributes that Canadian beef delivers consistently. Under the Canadian grading system, only carcasses with white fat and bright-red meat are selected for the top grades — Canada Prime, AAA, AA or A. These colour requirements are unique to the Canadian grading system.
BIC’s efforts are funded in part by cattle producers through the National Beef Check-Off, and through beef industry market development funds provided by the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada.
Janet Kanters, stakeholder communications manager for BIC, submitted this article. Would you like to submit a report about a project your organization is funding with checkoff dollars? Contact the editor using the contact information on page 2.