Business & Policy
Alberta Egg Producers Annual Meeting
Board Emphasizes Forward Thinking
By Kristy Nudds
The consumer ‘environment’ is changing – and the egg industry must
evolve to meet the demands of this new environment, retiring Chairman
Steve Howe told producers at the Alberta Egg Producers annual meeting
in Red Deer this past spring.
The consumer ‘environment’ is changing – and the egg industry must evolve to meet the demands of this new environment, retiring Chairman Steve Howe told producers at the Alberta Egg Producers annual meeting in Red Deer this past spring.
He said that the egg industry has not fully recognized, appreciated, nor effectively responded to the fact that the consumer demand for eggs has evolved over the last several years. He quoted a 2005 AC Nielsen research study that reported that for the first time, omega-3 eggs were the second most common type of egg purchased by Canadians, bumping brown-shelled eggs down to third place.
Omega-3 and other specialty eggs are growing at a rapid rate, and this industry trend is destined to continue given our aging population and increased consumer interest in health, nutrition and animal welfare, said Howe. For these reasons, “our structures and systems, including legislation and regulations, must evolve in a timely manner if we are to remain a healthy, sustainable industry,” he noted.
To accommodate new and emerging products, Howe said that is was also very important that the legislation under which Alberta egg producers operate is not eroded. “It is crucial that we are able to maintain the authority to regulate all eggs to ensure we can deliver important programs regarding food safety, animal welfare, biosecurity and other which are critical for public health and public confidence in the food supply, as well as to allow for fair and equitable rules for all registered egg producers,” he concluded.
General Manager Susan Gal told producers “as we move forward, our focus must remain on being proactive rather than reactive.” Despite the challenges and issues that are seemingly on the rise, the Alberta poultry industry has the tools to deal with them effectively because “we have been proactive in thinking about and addressing the ‘what ifs,” she said.
This includes developing the necessary policy and strategies to “at least begin to get the wheels in motion” so that the industry can effectively address a crisis should one occur, she added. Gal told producers that having a proactive mindset involves looking at the issues and challenges from all angles, not only from a producer perspective. She said that although the industry cannot anticipate every challenge, “for those identified as potential issues, we have plans and policies to help manage a crisis.”
Gal pointed towards the Alberta poultry industry’s Emergency Response Plan as an example. She said that although the plan does not specify exact detail, it provides the framework needed to respond to a poultry emergency. Having a proactive strategy in place will help ensure that our plans continue to be well thought out and that the Alberta poultry industry is well protected, she said.
By choosing a proactive stance, “we help take control over our destiny instead of allowing others to do it for us. Producers and industry will need to be actively involved in any and all decision-making, which affects our industry, “ she said. “We must be vigilant in considering the ‘big picture’; the implications of any changes on our industry overall.”
Regardless of what lies ahead, Gal believes that a key strategy for Alberta’s egg producers is to remain focused on being the “best possible producers of eggs.” By doing this, “our product and our industry will be in the best possible position to withstand any criticism that comes its way,” she said.
Leaders in Animal Care
The Board of Directors began work on taking the Start Clean- Stay Clean (SCSC) program to the next level by making the program mandatory for all Alberta registered producers. The Board deemed this necessary to help ensure strong confidence by an ever increasing and food safety concerned public.
The average SCSC rating was 90 per cent, with 62 per cent of Alberta egg producers scoring over 90 per cent. The four producers scoring 100 per cent were: Elmspring Colony, Kings Lake Colony, Richter Farms and Veteran Colony.
2005 was the first full year of rating Alberta egg producers on the CEMA Animal Care Program for Laying Hens, a program that examines factors such as cage density, access to water nipples, feeder space, beak trimming, temperature, lighting, air quality, moulting, use of generators and overall layer condition.
Marketing and Promotion
Marketing and Communications Manager Brenda White told members that 2005 was the “best year” with respect to marketing research results undertaken by CEMA. She said that in Alberta and Ontario, the majority of consumers felt it was okay to eat an egg a day. She noted that consumers in Alberta and the Maritime provinces ate the most eggs in a week compared to consumers in other provinces.
She added that Albertan households were the least likely of all Canadian households to be changing their diets due to the perceived high cholesterol content of eggs. “This is good news for our industry and is a good indicator that consumers are becoming less concerned with cholesterol in eggs,” she said.
White showed members two television commercials developed by CEMA introducing its new tagline: Rich in protein. Eggs. For energetic people.
CEMA representative John Richter outlined in his report that CEMA had worked extensively with provincial marketers to build a strong team that researched and launched the new campaign, which is based on healthy energy. Since eggs are an excellent source of protein, they help give lasting energy. Richter noted that an extensive Usage and Attitude study, concept optimization research, AC Nielsen retail data and advertising tracking studies “told us that consumers understand the message of our new television advertisements that eggs sustain energy.”
The 2005 Producer of the Year was awarded to Darius Entz, Egg Manager of Britestone Colony, Carbon, Alberta. Producer of the Year – Honourable Mention went to Andy Waldner, Egg Manager of Parkland Colony, Nanton, Alberta.
In his tenth year of service with the Alberta Egg Producers, Field Inspector Graham Marriott was honoured with the Long Service award.
New Chairman Elected
Meb Gilani was elected to a three-year term as Chairman, replacing Steve Howe, who retired in March. Ben Waldner was re-elected for a second three-year term as Vice-Chairman.