Allocations clawed back as demand dwindles Turkey growers hopeful new marketing campaign will attract South Asian consumers


VANCOUVER – While the demand for chicken and eggs is surging, demand for turkey continues to decline. “Retailers have backed

away from featuring turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas and are now featuring other products,” BC Turkey Marketing Board national director Vic Redekop told growers at their annual meeting in Vancouver, March 1. As a result, Canadian whole

bird sales have dropped by about 6.5 million kilograms in the past two years leading to ongoing reductions in quota. “We have set our 2018-19 allocation (beginning May 1st) at 87.3% of base, down from 89.1% of base in 2017- 18,” BCTMB general manager Michel Benoit told growers. In an effort to stem the

decline, the BCTMB has hired Mike and Jocelyn Wilson of In Language Advertising to conduct a marketing campaign targeted at the Lower Mainland’s large South Asian community. “Turkey is not top of mind

for the Chinese and South Asian market. Our goal is to increase awareness so turkey is in consideration,” the Wilsons told growers. The first two phases,

representing about 10% of the total budget, were conducted last fall, using

Facebook and WeChat (a Chinese-language social media platform) to promote turkey to over 200,000 people. Phase 3 will take place this spring and summer and include more social media, advertising on ethnic radio stations and in-store demos targeting Asian and South Asian shoppers. “Punjabis like to have

chicken in every meal and we’re trying to tell them they can trade turkey for chicken in their recipes,” the Wilsons said. For the Chinese audience, the emphasis is on food safety as well as the fact Canadian turkey is low in fat and contains no hormones or steroids.

Key is that the campaign is in their native tongues, the Wilsons said, noting South Asians “don’t get a lot of Western foods advertised to them in their language.” Mark Davies, who is

completing his 11th and final year as chair of Turkey Farmers of Canada, complimented BC’s effort, saying “we have to reach out to those who don’t traditionally eat turkey.” He said the turkey market is no longer primarily a whole bird market but based more and more on further processed turkey products. “This is not a market

correction, this is a change in market,” he said. “We need to

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work to meet changing dynamics and changing demographics.” If the slowdown in demand is not enough bad news, both Davies and BC Turkey

Association president Steve Heppell decried the new CP-TPP agreement, saying it further erodes Canadian production. “This agreement does

nothing for the public and does nothing but shrink our industry,” Heppell said. Davies was even more critical saying, “We were thrown under the bus.”

Supply management debate

VANCOUVER – Is it time for a change or even an end to supply management? Yes, says Sylvain Charlebois, dean of the Rowe School of Business at Dalhousie University. No, says Bruce Muirhead, Egg Farmers of Canada research chair in public policy at the University of Waterloo.

Charlebois and Muirhead opened the very successful BC Poultry Conference in Vancouver, March 1-2, with a debate on the merits of supply management. “I’ve seen the severe limitations of supply management,” Charlebois said, telling poultry producers it “goes against some of the things that are going on” in today’s marketplace. Although it works “to some extent,”

SYLVAIN CHARLEBOIS Muirhead disagreed,

insisting supply management benefits both producers and consumers. “We are much more efficient and innovative than farmers in New Zealand or Australia.”

He said the system contributes to food security and food sovereignty, which is becoming more critical globally, while maintaining competitive pricing for consumers. He pointed out Canadian consumers pay less

particularly in dairy, he believes losing supply management would not have much of a negative impact on poultry producers and might even help them, asserting that the system restricts innovation. “Why hide behind marketing boards

when you can do much better?” Charlebois asked.

for milk than New Zealand consumers, even though NZ is the world’s largest milk exporter. Supply management has also kept Canadian farms smaller than those in the US, NZ or AUS, reducing their environmental impact and creating greater rural sustainability. Charlebois countered that Canada is not

Australia or New Zealand, saying “we need to figure out our own model. We have the know-how, research, genetics and land to do that.” “We have a Canadian model. It’s supply management,” Muirhead retorted. —David Schmidt

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