Business & Policy
Make an Effort to Engage
By Kristy Nudds
This month, Canadian Poultry presents our annual Who’s Who of the Canadian poultry industry, where we highlight the human side of our industry. It’s my favourite issue of the year — it never fails to amaze me how diverse this industry is, how dedicated Canadian poultry farmers are, and the great stories they have to tell.
It’s the dedication to producing a high-quality product, family life and serving community that shines through in this issue each and every year. As well, the many benefits of supply management are more than evident.
With the onslaught of “undercover” videos in recent months it seems as though farmers, and the act of farming itself, is under attack. Articles in newspapers across the country, as well as “reports” from think-tank and special interest groups try to equate supply management with higher prices for poultry and dairy products at the grocery store. It’s no wonder consumers are confused, unsure, and looking for assurance that the products they buy are raised in a conscience way and safe.
And they also want to buy Canadian products. That’s why the Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC) have been working for a number of years on a branding campaign, last month launching a new logo, “Raised by a Canadian Farmer,” that let’s consumers know that the chicken they are buying is Canadian.
The organization has frequently conducted usage and attitude surveys by the polling and research group Leger Marketing According that show Canadians are becoming increasingly conscious of where their meat is coming from. “In the last ten or 15 years, we’ve seen the country of origin and trust in Canadian chicken farmers become very important in the minds of the consumers,” says Lisa Bishop-Spencer, communications manager with CFC.
The most recent survey, conducted in July 2013, confirmed this with 87 per cent of Canadian primary shoppers feeling that it’s important the chicken they buy is Canadian, not imported, and 77 per cent of Canadians would trust the chicken label they selected as best if it came directly from a farmers’ group rather than a retailer or manufacturer.
CFC launched the campaign in June. But consumers want to know more than just that their chicken is Canadian.
That’s why CFC is also launching “The Inside Coop”, a space on the chickenfarmers.ca website where farmers can share their stories and give Canadian consumers real, credible information on how their chicken is raised, and who raised it.
It’s a great initiative, following in the footsteps of similar initiatives such as Farm Credit Canada’s “Agriculture More Than Ever” where Canadian farmers from all commodities are encouraged to tell their story. It’s too early to tell whether this initiative is getting its intended point across and how well it is being used by consumers, but it’s encouraging to see the number of farmers and those working in the agriculture industry using it.
It would be great to see the Inside Coop get the same amount of participation from Canadian chicken farmers. The rapidly evolving world of communications and social media has provided agriculture with the opportunity to engage consumers in a more human, real way — take advantage of it.