Business & Policy
CPEPC 56th Annual Convention
Pathways to Profitability
By Kristy Nudds
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island – the birthplace of Confederation –
was the setting of the 56th annual convention of the Canadian Poultry
and Egg Processors Council. The meeting took place June 11-13 at the
Delta Prince Edward Hotel.
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island – the birthplace of Confederation – was the setting of the 56th annual convention of the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council. The meeting took place June 11-13 at the Delta Prince Edward Hotel.
CPEPC Chairman Shelly Mandell opened the annual meeting by telling delegates how pleased he was that the convention was being held in the beautiful province of PEI, something he began to quietly lobby for 26 years ago.
Mr. Mandell departed from the time-honoured tradition of remarking on Council issues because as he said, “the issues we deal with do not seem to change much from year to year, rather it’s the intensity and time involved that are the dynamic elements.”
Instead, Mandell remarked on the highs and lows within the Canadian poultry industry within the last year. He noted that the CPEPC has worked hard with the four national feather agencies and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) on a Foreign Animal Disease (FAD) preparedness project, and that many CPEPC members have been actively engaged in both provincial planning and in constructing their own corporate plans in the event of an AI or FAD outbreak within their respective regions.
Mandell said that although some individual companies, regions and provinces may be in better shape than others, the industry is only as strong as the weakest link. He also noted that unless the compensation issue for producers is resolved, industry emergency plans could face the undoing of the progress made during the past 18 months.
The CPEPC’s focus for the broiler hatchery sector in the first half of 2005 was assisting British Columbia with finding broiler hatching eggs while the industry restocked the breeder flocks after the 2004 AI outbreak, said Mandell. But despite this, Mandell said that Canada “had once again produced too many hatching eggs,” which resulted in a lower utilization of broiler hatching egg and chick TRQ by hatchery sector member companies.
The CPEPC developed a new model to assist CBHEMA with more accurate forecasting with respect to allocation needs for the broiler hatching industry, in hope that it would be used in the future, he said.
He noted that for the chicken sectors, 2006 has begun in exactly the same way that 2005 finished – in a decline. CPEPC chicken members are attempting to initiate change and improvements to the allocation system in Canada in order to help break the boom/bust cycle, he added.
A key issue for the CPEPC in previous years has been the allocation review process in the turkey industry, said Mandell. After “many facilitated sessions, and a lot of give and take” Mandell was happy to report that the CTMA’s board had unanimously agreed to a preliminary quoata for the 2006/07 year. He said that the turkey members of the CPEPC are working with the agency to address and finalize the technical issues in order to make a new allocation system function for the entire good of the industry.
Mandell said “a good job was done by all concerned” in the egg sector with respect to maintaining a continuous supply of eggs following the AI outbreak in B.C. He also noted that the Processors’ Advisory Committee has been working diligently with CEMA in order to achieve a sustainable, long-term supply agreement to replace the interim agreement that will end August 31st.
Robin Horel, CPEPC President and CEO, began by saying that “once again, the two biggest overarching issues in our industry are avian influenza and the WTO negotiations.” The convention featured plenary sessions on these two topics and Horel strongly urged members to attend.
He added that the outcomes of the WTO negotiations may have a significant effect on supply management and thus the business of members. Horel said that “an annual general meeting is a good time to look back at the past year and take stock” and he told members he would like to take a few minutes to take stock on avian influenza “at a macro level, from my point of view as your lead contact on this file.”
He said that dealing with avian influenza or FAD prevention and preparedness has consumed “an unbelievable amount of time and energy. We’ve been working on this for two years and frankly we haven’t moved fast enough. We’ve made some mistakes but we’ve also done some things right.”
Standing out in his mind was the “very good decision” to partner with the four national feather boards to form the National Poultry Group and hire an AI Project Coordinator, Bob Burden, in early 2005. Horel said that the project has grown in scope “much more than I had imagined it would” and that consequently Burden’s contract was renewed until the end of 2006.
“A robust animal disease strategy requires a multi-dimensional approach that addresses the four key elements of prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. The plan will always be a living document, but we must get to the stage where we can say that we are ready,” he said.
He offered members an interim ‘report card’ on the AI project to show where he thinks the industry is with respect to seven key elements:
Emergency Response Protocols A-
Replacement Supply Programs B+
Horel said the National Poultry Group’s work with the CFIA on emergency response protocols, including pre-emptive cull, improved speed of testing, accrediting labs, etc. has paid off, but that the issue of insufficient compensation for producers negatively impacts virtually ever other part of the project. “We have to crack this issue,” he said.
“Although the industry associations in the National Poultry Group all support the necessity of early reporting and pre-emptive culls, an individual producer cannot be put into the position of possibly losing his business for doing the right thing,” he added.
Horel urged members to attend the plenary session overviewing the AI project, telling them “you owe it to your business and to determine for yourself how you think industry and more importantly, your company, measures up to my report card.”
He pointed out that Canada is behind many other developed countries with respect to surveillance, but “I would rather do it right than do it quickly and wrong,” he said. Horel explained that working out a surveillance plan that tests on farm rather than at a plant is the right choice to relieve consumer concerns regarding AI. He added that all CPEPC sectors believe surveillance is a critical factor and have given CPEPC a mandate to push for on farm surveillance. He said that Canada plans to have a commercial poultry survey in place by the fall.
Horel believes that communications has become the biggest job for the National Poultry Group right now. “Wild bird surveys, international events, instilling confidence in customers and consumers, educating travelers, employees, industry participants… all of these are critically important if we are to avoid the catastrophic decline in poultry consumption that occurred in too many other countries.”
He believes that the industry is getting better at ensuring that messages from organizations such Health Canada, CFIA and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada all match up, telling members that all involved have built contact lists and communications sub-committees to ensure that each know what the other has planned.
He doesn’t believe that the industry has done a good enough job of communicating where the poultry group and other organizations are in respect to prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery, “but I foresee noticeable improvement” as more resources are focused on this, he said.
When addressing issues dealing with the supply chain, “we haven’t done as well as we have with the AI project,” noted Horel He said he would be happier if signed MOU’s were in place for replacement programs, “but my concerns frankly are now more with the loss of consumer confidence, drop in demand and huge surpluses in the system than with replacement supply issues,” he said.
Horel concluded by thanking CPEPC staff for their dedication and hard work, and welcomed new Technical Director Erica Charlton, who joined the CPEPC on April 1st. He thanked Chairman Shelly Mandell and noted his commitment to the council.
The CPEPC approved the following companies for membership:
• Sturdy Chick Body by Commander Industries Inc.
• Morris & Associates, Inc.
• Riverdale/Moores Produce
• O&T Farms
• SYSCO Corporation
• Northern Goose
Future CPEPC Convention Locations
2007 – Niagara Falls, ON
2008 – Vancouver, B.C.
2009 – Moncton, NB
2010 – Saskatoon, SK
2011 – St. John’s, NF