Canadian Poultry Magazine

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We must set our own house in order


January 21, 2013
By Fred W. Beeson

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It can be stated quite frankly that good will come out of the present ruinous egg prices. As long as prices are fairly good it has been found to be impossible to interest all the various parts of the poultry industry in any concerted action. Only when we are faced with a condition that MUST be remedied – such as is with us today – will the organized groups within the industry come together nationally and work for the common good.

On thing is certain. We cannot rely on any government to put our house in order. We can expect assistance, just as is received by other industries in distress, but the planning must be done, and the major part of the work must be done, by the industry itself. Rightly so.

Plans for the salvation of the industry are going around two for a penny. They include compulsory reduction of flocks, the invoking of provincial marketing acts, subsidies on feeds, floor prices, reduction in chick prices, gifts of our surplus eggs to Britain, and various proposals for advertising our products to consumers.

Meanwhile the buying public is taking home eggs each week at far below comparable prices of other essential foods and no doubt wondering what sort of people poultrymen are to sell their product at below cost! And meanwhile, too, producers are holding off ordering their 1950 baby chicks, thus creating a future scarcity of eggs that will become apparent by the end of next May.

Out of this chaotic condition we are convinced the poultry industry will emerge infinitely stronger than it has ever been. It will settle on a plan, or a number of plans, that will stabilize prices. It will come to a recognition that the consumer is a very important person and has to be catered to. It will come to a realization that by combining forces it has powers far above those it might obtain through any provincial or federal legislation. The producers of eggs will get over their present fallacy that all others connected with the industry are parasites, just waiting to take them for a ride. And the other component parts of the industry will be ready to do their parts to keep the entire industry on an even keel in the realization that their well-being depends on the prosperity of the whole.

Inter-provincially we have achieved very little co-ordination to date. Whether closer correlation can be achieved through committees working on advertising programs, as has been suggested, is something that has to be found out. Certainly if each province was working under a marketing board one could expect a better understanding of one another’s problems.

British Columbia, through its Poultry Industries Council, has commenced an advertising campaign. Ten thousand colored transfers depicting eggs and bacon in a most appetizing way are being prepared for display in restaurants, grocery stores, etc. They will be very effective when displays on every truck and car owned by persons in the poultry industry, and producers are being asked to do just that. Inserts have already been put into egg cartons to the tune of 200,000 and now newspaper advertising has been placed with the Vancouver Dailies.

There is to be an EGG WEEK commencing January 30th with the full co-operation of the department and chain stores, and a competition for window displays throughout the City of Vancouver.

The whole program will cost around six thousand dollars, and the money has been put up by member associations of the P.I.C.

Thus a start has been made for the industry to help itself. The B.C. Council hopes it will be possible for representatives to meet the P.I.C. in Alberta, to discuss a combined campaign. This is necessary because a percentage of the eggs marketed in B.C. will be from Alberta.

Advertising can do a quick job of stimulating egg consumption but it is only one method in the stabilization of the industry. Elsewhere in this issue is a plan present to the industry by the Manitoba Division of the Western Canada Produce Association. We suggest every reader make a point to go over it carefully, understand its implications and be ready to support it, or a modification of it, through his or her association.

It is going to cost us something to merchandise our eggs and poultry in the future. But it will cost us far less to do that than to let prices get all out of hand as they are at present. Poultrymen are literally losing millions of dollars right now by allowing eggs to be sold at below cost of production. It was by no demand of the public that eggs went “dirt cheap.” The situation has come upon us simply because we were not ready with a workable marketing plan at the expiration of the British contract. We relied upon the Government to solve our troubles whereas we should have been ready to help ourselves first and seek some assistance from the Government. There is a big difference in those two things.

Some people are crying that the poultry industry is ruined. Of course that is not so except in its narrowest sense as applying to the individual. We are taking a licking, alright. We’ve taken them before, and if we’re hit hard enough this time we’ll get down t brass tacks and find ways and means to stabilize our industry.