Provincial marketing strategy pitched to beef producers - Jan. 17, 2019
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Ontario beef farmers are hoping a joint marketing initiative will result in industry growth across the province, the country and the world.
Tom Wilson and Richard Horne from the Beef Farmers of Ontario introduced the concept to the Huron County Beef Producers at their annual meeting on Jan. 9 at the Brussels Legion.
The proposed marketing initiative is a joint venture between the Beef Farmers of Ontario and the Ontario Cattle Feeders’ Association that would study markets and aggressively market Ontario beef throughout the province, the country and internationally.
The cost of the program, however, would increase the check-off (funds paid to upper-tier associations) to $5.50 per head of cattle from $4. The bulk of the new check-off, $4.50, would go to the provincial associations, while $1 will go the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.
Of that $1.50 increase, $1.25 will be going towards the marketing initiative itself, while the remaining quarter will stay with the Beef Farmers of Ontario for further research.
Wilson, the feedlot director for the Beef Farmers of Ontario, said that the co-operative nature of the marketing plan will ensure sharp precision in terms of research and marketing and bringing people to Ontario beef. Because of provincial costs, he said, Ontario beef will cost more than its international competition, but last year’s research indicates that two-thirds of Ontarians are prepared to spend more for beef from their home province. It’s up to Ontario beef farmers, he said, to ensure that increased quality is there for the increased cost.
According to research completed last year, among those willing to pay for for Ontario beef, Wilson said, those particularly in favour include women, parents, consumers under the age of 35, Ontarians born outside of Canada and residents of the Greater Toronto Area.
With a 33 per cent decline in the Ontario beef cow inventory in the last 10 years – from 360,500 in January, 2008 to 243,300 in January, 2018 – Wilson said that the provincial organizations are searching for a solution to increasing beef consumption throughout the province and beyond.
Billed as a “bold new path” for Ontario beef, the plan would be led by Jim Clark, the executive director of the Ontario Cattle Feeders’ Association, and it will focus on increasing market penetration of all Ontario-branded beef products provincially, nationally and internationally.
Under Clark there will be a six-member joint marketing committee comprised of three members from the Ontario Cattle Feeders’ Association (Rob Lipsett, Craig McLaughlin and Jason Reid) and three from the Beef Farmers of Ontario who have yet to be chosen.
The committee will then provide overarching support and promotion for all Ontario beef brands in domestic and international markets by working with farmers and partners in the processing, retail and food service sectors.
The committee’s budget is currently set at over $1.1 million, with over half of the funds being directed towards overhead, though no new staff will be hired as a result of the initiative.
In terms of marketing, $350,000 will be dedicated to market development, $175,000 domestically and $175,000 globally. Regionally brand programs will cost $30,000, while promotional materials will cost $50,000, trade missions will cost $70,000 and travel will cost $70,000. Overhead, salaries for a marketing director, Japan market development manager, domestic market development manager and several contractors, will cost $575,000.
The initiative will be discussed further at the Beef Farmers of Ontario annual meeting, which is scheduled for late February in Toronto.