The Beef Information Centre (BIC) recently
third year of a 10-year strategic plan. The vision set out
in this plan is for a sustainable, profitable beef industry
where Canadian beef is recognized as the most outstanding
by our domestic and export customers. Under the
plan, BIC will work to maximize demand for Canadian
beef and optimize the value of Canadian beef products
for the benefit of Canadian cattle producers.
A cornerstone of BIC’s strategy is to build a stronger
overarching identity for Canadian fed and non-fed beef
in the domestic and US market. This will include quality
attributes and points of differentiation versus other
proteins and importing competitors.
More than half of BIC’s funding now comes from
non-check-off sources. BIC has been able to effectively
maximize the impact and benefit of producer dollars
by leveraging producer funding against industry
development funds and private industry partners.
Efforts to maximize demand in Canada have supported
and helped sustain domestic disappearance of Canadian
beef. The 2006 beef disappearance data released by
Statistics Canada shows total disappearance was
970,535 tonnes. Canadians are also continuing to
choose Canadian product versus imports as domestic
beef enjoyed an 85% share of the Canadian market in
2006. In 2006, 822,897 tonnes of domestic beef was
consumed. Retail beef prices in 2006 averaged
$11.58/kg versus $11.59/kg in 2005. Canadian beef’s
overall strength in domestic market share demonstrates
the continued commitment of the foodservice and retail
sectors to feature Canadian beef. Since 2002, Canadian
beef’s share of the domestic market has risen 18%.
CONSUMERS’ PERCEPTIONS ON BEEF’S HEALTHFULNESS
Consumer research indicates that health concerns are
the number one reason for eating less beef - therefore BIC
developed a targeted campaign to remind consumers
that beef is a lean and healthy food choice. The goal of
this multi-year campaign is to achieve a measurably improved
attitudinal shift among consumers towards
beef’s nutritional benefits.
The research on Phase One shows the 2006 campaign
was effective in growing awareness of the ‘beef is a
lean, nutritious meat choice’ message. Research also
shows that of those who recall the booklet when shown
it, almost half read it and 88% kept the resource.
Results for phase two of the nutrition campaign in 2007,
“Beef. Goodness in Every Bite,” show that the advertising
campaigns are contributing towards maintaining
consumers’ intent to eat beef on a daily basis. In light of
ongoing pressures on beef, advertising may be preventing
a fall-off in claimed ‘intent to include more beef in daily
food choice’. Program measurements indicated that 18%
of the population consistently agrees that they definitely
or probably will include more beef in their
diets in markets that received advertising.
One of BIC’s most powerful tools to improve the
nutritional perception of beef is its participation in the
Heart and Stroke Foundation’s HealthCheck™ program
which identifies healthy food choices. According to
recent research, consumers overwhelmingly respond
positively to the HealthCheck™ logo, and feedback
indicates that HealthCheck™ makes consumers feel
better about eating beef.
Eight cuts of beef (Eye of Round, Inside Round, Sirloin Tip,
Top Sirloin, Flank, Strip loin, Cross Rib, and Outside
Round at zero inch trim) as well as lean and extra lean
ground beef qualify for the HealthCheck™ program.
BIC is working with retailers to meet HealthCheck™
licensing requirements and encourage their participation
in the program.
NUTRITION AND FOOD SAFETY POLICY AND ISSUES MANAGEMENT
BIC protects beef producers interests by working with
government in areas such as food safety, nutrition
recommendations and labelling. By providing credible,
balanced and practical responses to proposed regulatory
policy, BIC has played an important role as a voice for
the beef industry. BIC was invited to provide consultation,
along with a number of other stakeholders, in the
revision of Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating.
BIC also participated on the national multi-stakeholder
trans fat task force, mandated to develop recommendations
to reduce trans fat to the lowest level possible.
The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) report was
released on October 31st as part of the American Institute
for Cancer Research annual conference in Washington,
D.C. While the main focus of the report centered on obesity
and lifestyle; it also made personal dietary
recommendations to limit red meat consumption and
claimed a convincing link between red and processed
meat consumption and risk for colorectal cancer.
In preparation for the report, BIC worked with national
and international red meat counterparts such as the
Canadian Pork Council (CPC), Canadian Meat Council
(CMC), National Cattlemen's Beef Association, American
Meat Institute (AMI) and the US National Pork Board.
As part of its WCRF strategy, BIC developed education
resources for health professionals and consumers and
conducted consumer focus groups to probe consumers'
understanding of cancer risk as it relates to red meat,
and to test the effectiveness of specific messaging.
A joint BIC/CPC/CMC media statement was distributed
parallel to the release of the report and much of the
Canadian media coverage included elements of BIC’s key
messages. BIC extensively monitored media and responded
to those articles that contained erroneous information.
Following the release of the report, BIC held two
health professional seminars in Toronto and Montreal
called ‘Cancer and Lifestyle: A Closer Look at the Big
Picture’. The goal of the seminars was to broaden the
issue of cancer risk beyond diet, communicate that
Canadian red meat consumption is aligned with dietary
guidelines, communicate beef’s positive dietary
and position BIC as a leader with this important
influencer group. The seminars showcased five highly
credible health scientists from Canada and the United
States. Approximately, 50 health professionals attended
the Toronto session, 111 attended in Montreal while
400 joined via Web cast.
The North American meat groups are working together
to examine the WCRF Report in order to effectively
challenge their recommendations in a credible and
evidence-based manner. This will be important as
WCRF plans to release a 'policy recommendation
report' in November 2008 which could recommend
additional restrictions to red meat consumption and
have public health policy implications.
INCREASING CANADIAN BEEF SALES AT RETAIL AND FOODSERVICE
BIC works extensively with the retail and foodservice
sectors across Canada to maximize demand for
Canadian beef and optimize the value of Canadian beef
products for the benefit of Canadian cattle producers.
These efforts resulted in increased beef sales through:
featuring new beef menu items; branded beef programs
at retail and foodservice; increased carcass use through
new cuts; and maintaining consumer confidence in
Canadian beef products.
The retail team continues to build on the success of
communications with the Seasonal Merchandising
Planner, the development of the new trade Web site, a
new e-learn program and standardized seasonal selling
objectives. BIC has recently partnered with Whole
Foods on an in-store recipe program and seminar. A
seasonal recipe centre has been implemented at two
Whole Foods locations in Ontario with an additional
store to implement shortly. Recipe centers are positioned
above each gourmet meat case and materials
are supplied by BIC. The recipes are rotated on a
quarterly basis and themed for each specific season. Cuts
are supported on a monthly basis with a featured recipe
book. The seminar supporting this initiative reviewed
research on new consumer trends that stressed the
importance of smaller portions and the convenience of
beef products. A cutting demonstration complimented
the research and showed store staff new ways to break
down the carcass to create cuts like medallions, quick
roasts and value-added product to keep beef the number
one protein on the counter and meet the needs of the
The Canadian foodservice market is mature, allowing BIC
to partner with those who best enhance BIC messaging
and further drive value and volume of Canadian beef.
On average, BIC has been able to leverage partner funding
at a rate of approximately 5:1. BIC recently entered a
strategic alliance with McDonalds – the largest user of
Canadian beef, domestically. The agreement aligns our
marketing efforts and includes the promotion of the “Make
it Beef” (MIB) logo inside all (approx.150,000,000/year)
burger boxes, a link from the McDonalds Web site back
to BIC, MIB logo on tray liners and television advertising
to gain visibility and to maintain McDonalds commitment
to 100% Canadian beef.
NEW BEEF PRODUCTS CREATE MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR CANADIAN
A key aspect of increasing the size and maintaining a
higher share of the domestic market has been the
development of new products and reformulation of
Since the inception of the Partners Program just over
two years ago, until December 31st, 2007, 65 projects
involving fed and commercial beef with a total value of
more than $6.1 million have been managed by BIC. Of
that total, approximately $1.25 million was funded
through BIC. These Partners Programs are cost-shared
and have been funded by various levels of government,
as well as producer check-off dollars.
COMMERCIAL BEEF UTILIZATION STRATEGY
In response to the BSE crisis and its impact on the cow
beef market, BIC implemented the Commercial Beef
Utilization Strategy in the fall of 2004.
The strategy was established to expand the size and share
of the domestic market for Canadian commercial beef.
The tactics established to achieve these goals included:
conducting research on the safety and quality of
Canadian commercial beef; information transfer and
technical assistance to industry partners; development
of source ground beef programs to increase the value
of trimmings beyond price points for regular, medium
and lean ground beef; promoting ground beef and
underutilized cuts to consumers; and preserving the
integrity of ground beef as a nutritious and convenient
choice. BIC is strategically aligned with the product
and promotional efforts of the majority of quick service
chain restaurants and has partnered with national
chains such as Burger King and McDonald’s to increase
commercial beef sales. BIC also developed the Product
Development and Reformulation Partners Program,
(working with processors, retailers and foodservice
to utilize Canadian beef in product formulations that
previously utilized imported raw materials and to
develop new products that will increase demand.
The commercial beef strategy was successful in supporting
the growth of the commercial beef market and increasing
the domestic share of this market. From 2002 to 2006,
the market share of domestic over-30-months (OTM)
beef increased from 25% to 80%. Domestic utilization
of beef from older animals was up significantly in 2005
and 2006, at 155,825 and 179,436 tonnes, respectively.
This compares to 118,721 tonnes in 2004, and 72,525
tonnes in 2003. While the initial strategy funded by the
Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development Fund,
National Beef Industry Development Fund and Alberta
Beef Producer ended in March 2007, BIC will continue
to implement a commercial beef program as part of its
2006/07 and 2007/08 business plans.
US CONTINUES TO BE STRONGEST EXPORT MARKET
BIC works with US trade clients in order to mitigate
the potential impact of US Country of Origin Labelling
and build awareness of the ‘Canadian Beef Advantage’.
The ‘Canadian Beef Advantage’ positions Canadian
beef like a brand with identifiable quality attributes
such as: superior genetics, excellent animal health
management, individual animal identification, a world
renowned food safety system, superior grading, excellent
supply capability and improved profitability.
BIC hosted a series of Partners for Success seminars in
the past year to introduce the ‘Canadian Beef Advantage’
to US buyers, distributors, retailers and foodservice
operators. Approximately 86 buyers have attended four
workshops held in Philadelphia, Santa Monica, Boston
and San José. The US team has also attended 11 trade
shows and developed an advertising campaign to raise
awareness among the US foodservice, retail and processing
industries of BIC’s programs that will help build their
business with Canadian beef.
One of BIC’s key US strategies is to grow Canadian beef
opportunities within specific market segments. For example,
the Hispanic market is the largest and fastest growing
ethnic group representing approximately 14.7% of the
US population in 2004, with an average annual beef
spending by an individual consumer at $326 versus $230
by non-Hispanics. This market values some of the key
Canadian beef advantages and there is less attachment
to USDA grades and more weight given to the quality
of the beef and its ability to meet expectations.
The United States is the largest export market for
Canadian beef. In 2006, Canada exported 370,000
tonnes of beef on a carcass weight basis to the United
States, accounting for 28.7% of Canada’s production.
The US market combined with Canadian beef consumed
in Canada, accounts for 1.19 million tonnes or
93% of all Canadian beef production. Exports of
Canadian beef to the United States in 2006 were down
21% from 2005. This is primarily due to a large increase
in live cattle exports. Strong uptake from current US
partners with BIC during the first quarter of this fiscal
year, has resulted in a total of 691,349 lbs of additional
BIC will continue to pursue a shared vision with CCA
for a sustainable, profitable beef industry in order to
maximize demand for Canadian beef and optimize the
value of Canadian beef products for the benefit of
Canadian cattle producers.