The mandatory country-of-origin labelling (COOL) requirements that now overshadow Canadian beef in U. S. retail meat cases are being leveraged in some regional-level stores to build “unique” store brands.
The Beef Information Centre, a marketing and communications arm of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, said in a release Jan. 15 it has been working with U. S. customers to build branded beef programs.
“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,” BIC chairman and Ontario feedlot operator John Gillespie said in the release.
As an example, BIC cited Pennsylvania-based Stauffers of Kissel Hill, which operates eight supermarkets in and around Harrisburg and Lancaster.
“SKH wished to develop a brand that would be widely recognized and accepted in its market area, with attributes that could not be easily matched by the competition,” BIC said.
SKH has been paired with a Canadian packer to source a “certified corn-fed, AAA grade Canadian beef program” labelled “Stauffers’ Choice Beef.” The on-pack labels identify the beef as Product of Canada, BIC said.
“The program has been extremely successful, with SKH reporting a strong double-digit increase in meat department sales over the past two years,” Gillespie said.
BIC also cited Marylandbased Panam Supermarkets, which sell primarily to the Hispanic market and are working with Cargill’s Ontario-based beef-packing facility, Better Beef.
The Hispanic consumer prefers bright-red meat colour and white fat, two attributes that Canadian beef delivers consistently.
Despite COOL, Canada remains the largest supplier of grain-fed beef to the U. S., exporting over 300,000 tonnes per year, the BIC said.
Citing a study of U. S. consumers last fall, BIC said product identified as Canadian beef drew a “strong response” with over 76 per cent agreeing when consumers were asked if Canadian beef is a premium product.
The study also found Canadian beef has a “positive position in consumers’ minds,” as 59 per cent of participants agreed Canadian beef “came from a wholesome, natural environment,” BIC said.