Proud to Be. A year ago, that was the catchy
slogan for our
convention. Proud to be Canadian. Proud to be Ontarian.
Proud to be a farmer. Proud to be all of the above.
After a year of struggles, exhilarations, highs and lows,
we stand collective and unified, as an industry that has
much to be proud of. A year ago, we established a
number of lofty industry goals. Given events in the past
year, attainment of those goals seemed virtually impossible
at times. Yet, we continued to push ahead.
In late August we made a deal with Loblaws/National
Grocers: that our premier product, Ontario Corn-Fed
Beef (OCFB), will be sold at 120 Your Independent
Grocer and Valu-Mart stores throughout Ontario.
Then on September 25th, 2007 we signed a license
agreement with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture,
Food and Rural Affairs, which gave OCFB the right to
use the Foodland Ontario brandmark/logo on packaging,
on our advertising, and anywhere that we offer our
product. Why? Because the Foodland Ontario brand is
powerful amongst consumers in this province – and has
served the fruit and vegetable sector very well for the
past three decades. The brand is open to all those who
wanted to use it, but only fruits and vegetables had
been using it – and effectively in the eyes of retailers.
To me being part of the Foodland Ontario family means,
working with the provincial government as partners on
marketing programs that highlight local efforts by our
farmers. Secondly, why confuse consumers? Six in ten
(59%) are overwhelmed or confused by the many things
they are supposed to look out for when shopping. So
let’s stick to what we already know, and that is that
“locally-grown” is a characteristic that consumers seek
out when available and using Foodland Ontario
highlights that fact!
The OCFB program will not only continue to focus on
the established business but will also place a strong
emphasis on the future partnership with Loblaw
Companies and the cultivation of potential future growth
in a market that is ripe for Ontario-produced products.
This move stems from the fact that we know consumers
are attempting to source more and more food products
within a 100-mile radius of their homes.
The overwhelming challenge facing all
producers today obviously arises from the radical
nature and transformation of our marketplace in North
America. All Canadian beef strategies must continue to
use measures for enhancing the domestic market for
beef in ways which enable all segments of the beef
industry to add value to their cattle - which includes the
seed stock, cow/calf, backgrounder and feedlot sector.
To add value to a product in a commodity market such
as beef, branding is and will become more essential.
Our goal is and will remain focused on displacing beef
products from other jurisdictions who compete against
the Ontario beef industry. In order to do this we must
continue to differentiate among a variety of seemingly
identical products in the retail counter, consumers require
a brand that identifies specific desired characteristics of
product. For beef consumers, this includes consistency,
tenderness, marbling, locally-raised and increasingly,
food safety. The OCFB program positively influences
consumers’ buying habits for Ontario-produced beef.
Since its introduction into the market place in June 2001,
OCFB has provided consumers with a recognizable
brand, and a distinctive logo, which assures them of
receiving a product consistently, produced in accordance
with established quality assurance standards. More and
more, shoppers not only recognize the label but associate
the label with fresh top quality locally-raised beef.
All beef sold through the OCFB program has been fed
in Ontario. The guarantee of locally-raised product,
produced by Ontario farmers, in accordance with
good production practices, tremendously appeals to
consumers, particularly in the markets targeted by
the OCFB program.
The objective of this program is to enhance revenues for
Ontario beef producers, through a combination of higher
beef prices and/or sales volume.
PROJECT OBJECTIVES ACHIEVED AND IN PROGRESS:
Continued developing the new market relationship
that has been formed with Loblaws, based on providing
consumers with an identifiable brand at the retail and
food service level which gives them assurance of quality
Delivered consumers a locally-grown product that can
be identified as such, providing OCFB with a competitive
market edge over other beef products and programs
which cannot be verified as having an Ontario source
Enhanced the competitiveness of Ontario’s beef industry
by creating a provincial brand that differentiates Ontario
beef from other beef products currently sold in Ontario
Continued building and strengthening partnerships
between primary producers, auction markets, processors
and buyers/consumers of beef
Through close collaboration with the Beef Information
Centre in the presentation of the OCFB brand to consumers
in attractive packaging with program information,
cooking instructions and clear identification of the
uses for the various cuts of beef
Maintenance of consumer confidence in Ontario beef by
promoting the OCFB program as a producer-owned and
operated program, thereby establishing a direct
link with consumers, not only today but into the future
Supported by the marketing efforts of the OCFB program,
we will continue to bolster independently-owned, local
retailers by providing them with a branded beef product
and program that will allow them the capability of
competing against other branded, non-branded and
non-Ontario beef products which are seriously harming
smaller local retailers, butchers, wholesalers and most
of all producers.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Ontario
Cattlemen’s Association and you, the beef producers of this
province, for supporting the OCFB program from its inception
in 2000. Without the support of the various agencies
and government bodies, we would have never been able
to move OCFB forward to the point where it sits today!
We have a great story, a local story, one built around
key attributes such as a complete program focusing on
food safety, quality assurance, wholesome feed sources,
and – more importantly – environmentally sustainable
practices. Our brand is owned by our members, their
families and their industry. We are not here to cast a
shadow of doubt on other beef products as we all know
beef is one of the safest and most nutritious means of
getting needed protein and other essential nutrients into
your body. The Ontario Cattle Feeders’ Association is
here to market the producers brand - Ontario Corn-Fed
Beef - to reclaim our market share in the meat case.
The reason is quite simple: consumers like our product,
they like how we present our product, and want to see
more of what we’re doing.