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From the Editor: Redefining Marketing

Redefining Marketing


While attending the Alberta Poultry Industry conference recently, I sat in on a very interesting presentation given by Brian Payne, Director, Commissary and Supply Chain Management for Pizza Pizza Ltd. and a member of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association.  He also sits on the board of directors for the Chicken Farmers of Canada.

While attending the Alberta Poultry Industry conference recently, I sat in on a very interesting presentation given by Brian Payne, Director, Commissary and Supply Chain Management for Pizza Pizza Ltd. and a member of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association.  He also sits on the board of directors for the Chicken Farmers of Canada.

Canada’s foodservice industry is, as Payne pointed out, “a very large customer” of chicken, responsible for 33 per cent of total sales. As such, it is not surprising that product quality is of great importance.
But what is “quality”? Payne said a better question should be “Who decides what quality is?”

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Consumers, of course, are who decides what quality is.  And how do they form their perception on what quality is? Marketing affects that perception to a large degree.

Payne used the following analogy: both Coke and Pepsi are comprised primarily of sugar and water. Essentially, they are the same product, but how each product is marketed is what makes consumers choose which one they would rather consume.

He also spoke of how current prices for pork can sway consumer perception. Although many hog producers in North America are losing money, their product is currently selling at rock-bottom prices. Just a few days ago, most of the major grocery stores in Ontario were selling pork tenderloin for 99 cents per pound.

What does this say of quality? It doesn’t say anything about how pigs are raised, fed, the regulatory safety programs in place or the true quality of the product, but that the product is not as valuable as other similar products in the marketplace.

This is where the poultry industry has a definite advantage. With supply management, producers are paid a fair price for their product, which is reflected in the marketplace. Poultry products continue to be in demand, as reflected in the 2007 Usages and Attitudes Survey conducted by the Chicken Farmers of Canada.

Interestingly, in this survey 92 per cent of respondents agreed that it is important that the Canadian government actively defend the interests of Canadian chicken farmers. 

This needs to be used to our advantage. If consumers are willing to defend our product, to maintain its “quality” in their minds it’s key all those involved in the value chain play a role in maximizing the production of a high-quality product.

I’ve had several producers over the last year ask me what the marketing boards do for them, in terms of consumer perception. This is a tough question to answer, as each board is unique – some have been aggressively pursuing such efforts while others not so much. 

It’s essential that marketing efforts from poultry organizations go beyond their traditional efforts and start addressing some of the questions that are top of mind for consumers, such as food safety programs, drug use, and animal welfare. I don’t think simply saying we raise a quality product is going to cut it anymore. We need to start actively showing “quality” to consumers at trade shows and consumer events, as well as on industry websites. Maintaining consumer confidence and listening to their needs will continue to brand Canadian poultry products as being of high quality.


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