Perspectives: April 2017

Enhancing the farmer-processor relationship
Ronnie P. Cons, C&C Packing Inc.
March 15, 2017
By Ronnie P. Cons, C&C Packing Inc.
Canadian poultry processors need a consistent supply of dependable, high-quality chicken to supply to their distributors and retailers. In order to achieve this, many processors have contracts with multiple farmers. This begs the question: Can anything be done to ensure the quality  of their supplied product?

The short answer is yes. Establishing trust and communication between the farm and the processor will help ensure the processor receives the expected product from their suppliers. An open and trusting relationship between the farmer and the processor will motivate the farmer to produce a higher quality product, as they will feel more like an important partner of the processor rather than just another supplier.

Open lines of communication should allow farmers to express any complaints or concerns they have as a supplier. Farm managers should be encouraged to report potential supply problems or other issues on the farm that can impact supply so the processor can be prepared. Of course, the farmer must feel confident that they will only gain by this openness.   

Let’s elaborate on one technique of enhancing trust; specifically, the processor and the farmers should contribute to similar worthy causes. This will lead to a closer and more trusting partnership-oriented relationship, which will encourage the supplier to maintain higher quality. Below are some recommendations for implementation:
  1. The processor should appoint an in-house existing director to be in charge of running this program. He should research and come up with worthy causes that are relevant and local (if possible) to both the processor and the farmer.
  2. He should then contact the owner/director of the farm and ask him if he/she would like to partner up in supporting a worthy local cause. He can explain that they don’t need to donate much but that this will help their public image which is good for business, and bring both their businesses closer together.
  3. The joint contribution is then made to the cause in the name of a program name such as “ABC Processor and XYZ Farm Charity Fund.”
  4. A publicity release is issued to local media where the farmer operates, acknowledging that they made a joint contribution to a good cause. The piece can explain how the farmer and processor work closely together and care about local causes. Ideally, they can both bring a cheque to the charity and have a photographer take pictures of the donation.
  5. Next, the processor makes and delivers two to three certificates to the farmer, to the effect that they are proud partners in contributing to good causes. These certificates are to be placed in the owner’s office as well as a place where the farm employees will see them. It is important that the workers see them, as they are crucial to the quality of the product.
  6. A letter signed by the CEO of the processor should be mailed to the owner of the poultry farm, explaining how happy he is to be jointly contributing to a worthy local cause and to have him as his supplier. This can be followed up with a phone call to this effect. The processor can use this call to further open the channel of communication between both firms.
  7. Another letter should be addressed to the employees of the farm explaining, again, how happy the processor is to be partnered with them for this good cause. The CEO of the processing company should also express his appreciation for their good work and quality of product they supply to his company.
  8. The above steps should be repeated annually to reinforce the farmer-processor relationship. The result of this simple program will be a closer and more productive relationship. In addition, the processor will have a poultry supplier who feels like a true and appreciated partner with the processor. This sense of partnership among the farm employees and owner/management should encourage the owner and his employees to work even harder to maintain the quality and quantity of the poultry supplied to the processor. 
A happier and more productive relationship, and all for a good cause – a true win-win situation.

Ronnie P. Cons is CEO of C&C Packing Inc., a Canadian meat and poultry distributor. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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