Still #1 - Canadian Meat Business

July/August 2008

Still #1

Team Cedar Grilling

Canada’s barbecue


Canadian Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement 40854046

The Horse Slaughter


Guest Editorial:

Canada's Cattle

Producers Facing

Uncertain Future


meatbusiness.ca $6.00

Volume 7, Number 4 July/August 2008

5 Guest Editorial

by Brad Wildeman

6 Still Number One: Team Cedar Grilling reclaims title

by Alan MacKenzie


10 Not Horsing Around: The controversy surrounding

horse slaughter in Canada heats up

by Alan MacKenzie

14 The Business of Exports

by Kevin Grier

17 Assembly Line

18 Hamburger Holiday

by Alan MacKenzie

22 Answering Industry Questions: Prairie Swine

Centre opens new facility

by Ken Engele and Lee Whittington

24 Tyson’s Choice

by Kevin Grier

27 Making Every Blade Count: Finding alternatives

in a world of high cost feed

by David Elias

28 Events Calendar

30 Cross Country News

32 Industry Roundup


38 Meat Industry Business Watch

by James Sbrolla




July/August 2008 Canadian Meat Business

| Guest Editorial |

July/August 2008 Volume 7 Number 4


Ray Blumenfeld



Alan MacKenzie



Brad Wildeman, Kevin Grier, Ken Engele,

Lee Whittington, James Sbrolla


Krista Kline


Jerry Butler

Canadian Meat Business is published

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Cover Photo Credit: Cedar Grilling

Alberta announcement leaves the

rest of Canada’s cattle producers

facing an uncertain future

With the recent announcement

of support for Alberta

livestock industries, many

cattle producers outside Alberta are

wondering what it all means to their

future. Unfortunately, producers will

have to continue to wait, as there are

now a lot more questions than answers.

It appears quite apparent, however,

that there has been a major collapse of

the federal/provincial process that led

Alberta to act unilaterally. The Canadian

Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) strongly

advocates for all levels of government to

take a national approach when looking

at assistance for livestock producers. We

were led to believe this was the objective

of all governments in the fall of 2007.

In fact, the CCA was told several times

that the existing suite of Business Risk

Programs would adequately provide for

the unprecedented price declines and

cost increases resulting from a par dollar

and bio-fuel policies of the U.S. We

agreed to that approach in spite of our

concerns that the program was clearly

not designed to adequately protect

livestock producers.

Over the past 10 months, we have

been constantly providing solutions to

create a more effective response. We now

realize there was no serious commitment

to addressing the problem nationally.

The fact that Alberta appreciates the

importance of the cattle industry to

its economic future and responded

accordingly, while tough for the rest of

us to accept, is the result of this lack of

national leadership.

Dangerous deviation

There are many components

embedded in the announcement that

concern Canadian livestock producers

including how feedlots outside of

Alberta can compete for feeder supplies

in the marketplace against the Alberta

treasury. But the most dangerous

components aren’t monetary at all.

Rather, it is the approach the Alberta

government took to link future financial

payments to mandatory activities in

order for producers to be eligible is a new

and dangerous deviation from ad hoc

payments of the past. And while many of

these enhancements may be necessary in

the future, it should be consumers and

the marketplace, not the government,

signaling to the cattle industry which

changes are appropriate.

Additionally, while these new

requirements of mandatory age and

premise identification are restricted to

Alberta producers only, by default they

become mandatory for producers in any

other province wishing to sell cattle into

Alberta, with the additional costs and no

compensation for doing so.

To complicate the matter further, the

announcement introduces the Alberta

Livestock Information System (ALIS),

a new identification agency responsible

for collecting and housing age and

premise identification information. For

producers in other provinces, it may very

well be impossible to download their

information into the province-specific

ALIS; thereby making their cattle

ineligible to meet the criteria for feeding

or processing in Alberta. Considering

that 70 per cent of the slaughter

capacity in Canada resides in Alberta,

and these plants need outside cattle,

this is a real and prominent problem.

The cattle industry invested millions

of dollars into the Canadian Cattle

Identification Agency (CCIA), which

houses cattle identification information

and is accessible to all Canadian cattle

producers. We are surprised and

dismayed that Alberta did not consider

this system adequate for their needs.

Other initiatives mentioned in the

announcement regarding international

advocacy and domestic protection are

the sole responsibility of the federal

government. Many of these potential

actions we support, but some we cannot.

As a national association, the CCA will be

demanding that any of these initiatives

be undertaken for the benefit of all of

Canada, not exclusively for the Alberta

government or its producers.

The CCA will continue to work

diligently to convince politicians of the

concerns of cattle producers across

Canada, and to continue to seek solutions

that are in the national interest.

Brad Wildeman is the president of the Canadian

Cattlemen’s Association.


July/August 2008 Canadian Meat Business

Photo: Cedar Grilling

Steve Adams, Daryl Maybanks and Mike Adams of Team

Cedar Grilling, Canada’s barbecue champions.

Number One


Team Cedar Grilling, Canada’s barbecue champs, reclaim title.

By Alan MacKenzie

Nothing says summer in

Canada like firing up the

barbecue. Gathering with

family and friends in the backyard to

enjoy meats and other foods cooked

on a gas or charcoal grill suggests

relaxation and fun in those hot,

sunny days.

But for some people, barbecuing is

more than a method of cooking, and

certainly more than just a pastime. For

Steve Adams and the rest of Team Cedar

Grilling, Canada’s national barbecue

champions, it’s an obsession…and a now


“We’re professional barbecuers now,

meaning we get paid by sponsors to

compete,” Adams said, noting that his

team is not just your average backyard

grillers. “You have to be fanatical about

this type of barbecuing.”

“I have records going back to the ’80s

for a lot of my recipes,” he told Canadian

Meat Business while taking a break from

experimenting with new rub mixes. “Have

you ever made something really good at

home, something that’s outstanding, but

you just can’t remember how you made

it? A lot of people have done that, so I

started keeping records of everything.”

Adams said keeping these records

has been an essential component in

becoming a champion barbecuer. To

perfect his recipes, he goes back and

makes adjustments, taking note of

every detail, including temperatures

and wind.

The Ballinafad, Ont.-based team

formed in 2004 and quickly went on to

success in the Ontario barbecue circuit.

In 2006, the team became the “Grand

Champions” of the Canadian Open

Barbecue Championships, a title it just

reclaimed for the third year in a row on

July 6 in Barrie, Ont., while competing

against 26 other teams. The competition

is hosted annually by the Canadian

Barbecue Association.

This year the team – consisting of

Adams, Daryl Maybanks, Mike Adams

(Steve’s nephew) and Stephen Phippen

– scored 1892 points out of a possible

2000. Team Cedar Grilling cooked

non-stop for three days and nights on

Canadian Meat Business July/August 2008


Photos: Cedar Grilling

Steve Adams in action at the Canadian Open

Barbecue Cahampionships.

Team Cedar Grilling scored second place for ribs at

this year’s Canadian Open.

11 barbecues to achieve the following

scores: 2nd place for brisket; 2nd

place (tie) for chicken; 2nd place for

ribs; 10th place for pork; and 1st place

for dessert.

Winning the Canadian Open in Barrie

means the team also gets the opportunity

to represent Canada at the Jack Daniel's

World Championship Invitational

Barbecue in Lynchburg, Tennessee, which

celebrates its 20th anniversary Oct. 24

to 25.

Largely considered one of the world’s

top barbecue events, the “Jack” draws

approximately 130 teams from around

the world. To qualify, a Canadian

team needs to win the competition in

Barrie first.

“It’s quite the event,” Adams said.

“Last year there were teams from as far

away as Australia, England, Switzerland,

Germany and Puerto Rico.”

Adams said that when they started out

he never would have expected his selfproclaimed

obsession with barbecuing

would take him and his teammates to

these different destinations.

“We’re constantly surprised,” he said.

“It’s overwhelming, but we’re getting

used to it. We don’t get butterflies like we

used to.”

Adams said he is now completely

consumed with barbecuing, even when

working at his regular job as owner of

Heritage Decks, a company that installs

high-end cedar decks and spas.

“It’s kind of an outdoor business,” he

said. “We build decks for barbecues, so it

all ties together.”

The team has over 10 sponsors,

including Barrie-based Hovey’s

Gourmet Meats, which supplies the

team with its meat, and the Malabar

Super Spice Company, which specializes

in quality spices, ingredients and

sausage casings.

Doris Valade, president of Malabar

Super Spice, said the team approached

“You have to be fanatical

about this type of


– Steve Adams, Team

Cedar Grilling.

her company earlier this year looking

for someone to provide spices, rubs and

other functional ingredients.

“We’re honoured to be their supplier

of choice and we’re confident that our

ingredients and their barbecue expertise

will lead them to championships along

the way,” she said. “They take their

barbecuing very seriously.”

With their continued success it doesn’t

look like the team will be slowing down

any time soon. Adams said he gets asked

all the time “where this is going” – to

which he has no answer.

“It sure is satisfying though,” he said.

“To be able to cook for a Kansas City

master judge and get a 100 per cent score

and have him say ‘this is the best chicken

I’ve ever eaten in my life’ – that’s pretty

satisfying. That’s better than trophies

for me.”


July/August 2008 Canadian Meat Business

Chicken Parrot Sticks with Sweet

Finishing BBQ Sauce

This recipe was one of the team’s top recipes in

2007. The name comes from Adams' pet Quaker

parrot, 'Kiwi' – whom the finished product bears a

“striking resemblance.”

“What makes this recipe so yummy is the wing skin

is stretched out taunt and then lightly sprinkled with

a great rub and coated with a dusting of cornstarch to

make a crispy barbequed skin,” Adams said. “I like to

hit the wings for the initial sear and then cook them

slowly indirect until they come apart easily.”


• 12 whole chicken wings

• Parrot Rub (see below)

• Sweet Finishing BBQ Sauce (see below)

• 2 tbs canola oil

• 1 tsp cornstarch

• 12 wooden skewers


Preheat barbeque to medium heat. Skewer whole

chicken wings from tip to drumette. Lightly rub canola

oil over skewered wings and sprinkle wings with Parrot

Rub. Lightly dust wings with sifted cornstarch. Grill

at medium heat for 25-35 minutes turning frequently.

Serve with warm Sweet Finishing BBQ Sauce

for dipping.

Parrot Rub

• 2 tbs turbinado sugar

• 2 tbs kosher salt

• 2 tbs paprika

• 1 tbs fresh ground pepper

Photo: Steve Adams

• 1 tsp seasoning salt

• 1 tsp onion powder

• 1 tsp garlic powder

• 1/2 tsp celery salt

• 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Sweet Finishing BBQ Sauce

• ¼ cup water

• ½ cup ketchup

• 2 tbs white vinegar

• 2 tbs Worcestershire sauce

• ½ tsp hot sauce

• ½ tsp kosher salt

• 1 tsp chili powder

• 2 tsp brown sugar

• 2 ½ tbs honey

• ¼ tsp chili seeds

• ¼ tsp ground black pepper

• Dash Jamaican curry


In a saucepan, combine all sauce ingredients. Bring to

a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and stir uncovered for

about 10 minutes.

Pork Greek Barley Sandwich

Adams created the Greek Barley Sandwich recipe

for The Ontario Pork Board. The recipe calls for

Steam Whistle Pilsner, but any pilsner will do.

“What a great burger,” Adams said. “Everyone

loves the Greek Sauce and everything is so simple to


Canadian Meat Business July/August 2008



• ½ cup Steam Whistle

Pilsner beer

• 2 Ib lean ground pork

• ½ cup bread crumbs

• 1 egg

• 2 cloves minced garlic

• ¼ cup chopped fresh

Italian parsley

• 1 tbsp dried mint

• ½ tsp salt

• 6 large fresh

hamburger buns


Combine all ingredients in a

mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly

with a fork. Form into 6

equally–sized burgers. Cover

and refrigerate until the grill

is prepared. Preheat grill to

medium and lightly oil grill bars

with vegetable oil. Grill burgers

on both sides until completely

cooked, about 10-15 minutes.

Top Barley Sandwich with

creamy feta, sliced tomato, sliced

red onion and Greek Sauce.

Greek Sauce

• Mix together ahead of time

• 1 cup container of plain,

unflavored Greek yogurt

• ½ cup diced cucumber

• 1 clove minced garlic

• ½ tsp salt

• ½ squeezed lemon

• refrigerate unused sauce

• Serves six

Try This!

Add sliced black olives

and garnish with fresh

mint leaves.

Serve extra Greek Sauce

on the side.


July/August 2008 Canadian Meat Business

Not Horsing Around

The controversy surrounding horse slaughter in Canada heats up.

By Alan MacKenzie

On June 18 the Canadian Horse

Defence Coalition (CHDC)

released a report entitled Black

Beauty Betrayed that calls for the end of

the Canadian slaughter of horses for

food consumption.

The coalition also released a video

obtained by an anonymous source

they said shows repeated violations of

roughly a dozen separate Canadian Food

Inspection Agency (CFIA) regulations

at the Neudorf, Sask.-based Natural

Valley Farms. The facility, which was

originally designed for beef slaughter,

began slaughtering horses for European

consumption last year. According to

CHDC the facility slaughters

approximately 225 horses per eight

hour working day, five days a week – or

approximately 1,125 horses per week.

The video – originally 10 hours long

– was also used by CBC’s The National in

a story entitled No Country for Horses that

aired on June 10.

Among the violations cited by CHDC

were overcrowding, improper use of

stun equipment and a lack of proper

CFIA supervision.

Sinikka Crosland, executive director

of CHDC said the Saskatchewan facility

is still designed for cattle, not horses

– meaning the horses have little room

to move and can see their herd mates

being killed.

She noted that in the report, Dr.

Nicholas Dodman, of Tufts University’s

Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

in North Grafton, Massachusetts,

concluded many horses at the facility

were not rendered unconscious before

butchering, which is required by the

federal government’s Meat Inspection

Act. Crosland said the “general makeup”

of a horse – versus a cow, hog or sheep –

makes it difficult for captive bolt operators

to humanely kill the animals.

“There’s a certain spot in the middle of

the forehead where the captive bolt needs

to go in order to effectively render that

horse unconscious,” she said. “So it was

no surprise that when a horse went down

you could see its lips moving, mouthing

– which shouldn’t be happening if the

horse had been stunned properly.”

She noted that Natural Valley Farms

has the “innate problem” of its designedfor-cattle

kill box, but overall she said the

CHDC feels that inhumane treatment of

horses is a problem across the country.

“We feel that horse slaughter cannot be

humanely conducted,” she said.

Crosland founded CHDC in 2004.

At that time the group and Ipsos-

Reid conducted a poll that concluded

64 per cent of Canadians polled are

against the slaughter of horses for

human consumption.

“Even at that time, before the CBC

documentary and everything, that many

people were already against it,” she said.

“If people are sort of sitting on the fence

and they see the violations for themselves,

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“We feel that horse slaughter cannot be humanely conducted.”

– Sinikka Crosland, Canadian Horse Defence Coalition.

and they understand how horses are

suffering in this industry, we feel that

a lot more people would vote against

horse slaughter.”

U.S. ban led to increase

In 2006, the U.S. banned the slaughter

of horses for food. Horse meat is not

consumed in large quantities in North

America, but it is popular in several other

– mostly European and Asian – countries.

When the U.S. ban came into effect,

Canada’s horse meat exports increased

substantially. Canada’s horse slaughter

includes that of animals imported from

the U.S.

According to Agriculture and Agri-Food

Canada, in 2007 the U.S. shipped 27,698

horses to Canada to be slaughtered,

compared to 22,297 in 2005. Canada

exported $77 million worth of horse meat

in 2007, compared to $60 million in 2005.

France received the most – approximately

5,000 tons valued at $25.8 million,

compared to 3.7 tons valued at $19.6

million in 2005. Japan and Switzerland

also were major importers of Canadian

horse meat in 2007, with $19.1 million

and $19.5 million worth respectively.

According to the CFIA website, there

are seven federally registered horse

slaughter facilities in Canada. In addition

to Natural Valley Farms, these include:

• Viande Richelieu Inc. / Richelieu

Meat Inc. in Massueville, Que.

• Norval Meats in Grey County, Ont.

• Les Viandes de la Petite Nation Inc.

/ Les Cerfs de Boileau in St-Andre-

Avellin, Que.

• Bouvry Exports Ltd. in Fort

Macleod, Alta.

• Kour Holdings Corporation /

Medallion Meats Corporation in

Kamloops, B.C.

• Canadian Premium Meats Inc. in

Red Deer, Alta.

Enforcing regulations

Jim Laws, executive director of

the Canadian Meat Council, said the

Canadian meat industry in general has

strong regulations in place regarding

animal welfare. He noted that in

Canada cattle, calves, swine, poultry,

bison, elk, deer, sheep, lambs, goats,

rabbits and horses are all slaughtered at

federally registered establishments for

human consumption.

Laws gave little comment on the video,

but said the alleged event does show how

the industry as a whole needs to stress the

enforcement of regulations.

“We saw a camera shot, but its hard to

really see everything, what exactly went

on in that particular event,” he said. “But

it certainly shows that everybody in the

industry – including pork, beef, poultry,

goats, rabbit, bison, elk, deer – everybody

needs to do an excellent job. Look what

happened with E. coli – if one person

screws up, everyone feels it.”

He noted, however, that it appears as

though specific transportation guidelines

were violated.

“Apparently some double decker cattle

trucks were being used to transport

horses up from the United States, and

that is not permitted,” he said, adding

he’s not sure how the trucks that don’t

have enough head room for horses were

able to cross the border. “If that’s the case

and someone did break the rules, then

we don’t condone that.”

Laws added that Bouvry Exports is the

only horse slaughter facility in Canada

that is a member of the CMC.

“I did a tour of that facility a couple

of years ago, and that’s an excellent

facility,” he said. “They have European

accreditation, which is tough to get.

They do exports of horse meat to France

and Japan – if you do exports to those

locations you certainly have to meet

additional requirements.”

But Natural Valley Farms also exports

overseas – it became recognized as an

EU processor last summer after meeting

several regulations, according to a story

previously published in Canadian Meat

Business. Before that the company had

cut down to processing beef only two

days a week because of a downturn in

the feeding and processing industry. The

custom contract with the EU allowed

Natural Valley Farms to re-employ its full


A representative with the CFIA, who

asked not to be named due to a fear of

death threats, said the agency is currently

investigating the allegations and has a

team of two veterinarians and four meat

inspectors on site. Natural Valley Farm

was unavailable for comment on the

alleged violations.

12 Canadian Meat Business July/August 2008 meatbusiness.ca

The Business of Exports

Why Canadian meat export performance is among the best in the world.

By Kevin Grier


iscussions and debate regarding export markets

for Canadian beef and pork tend to run the gamut

from those who express concerns that Canada is too

“export dependent,” whatever that means, to those worried

that we are not exporting enough. Generally, the latter group

is really saying that we need to find more lucrative, less price

sensitive markets, preferably not in the United States.

The concern regarding export dependence can, and should

be, easily dismissed. Canada exports more than 50 per cent

of its red meat production. We have exceptional production

capabilities and a small population. Given that we cannot

eat all we produce, the alternative to “export dependence”

is radical downsizing…so enough time spent worrying about

export dependence.

Moving on, the other concern is that Canada is simply

missing the boat on lucrative, dynamic, differentiated, upscale

markets around the globe. The argument is that our packers

and traders have just not done a good enough job finding

good markets, and that they are too focused on commodity

selling. The argument is often augmented with the charge

that exporters are much too focused on the U.S. market.

Canadian capability

Canada ranks as one of the top five beef exporters and

one of the top three pork exporters in the world. While it is

true that most of that trade goes to the U.S., the experience

and marketing focus is global. When it comes to pork, the

U.S. represents less than 40 per cent of our total exports.

Canada’s packers and traders have a long history and likely

more export experience than any country in the world.

Canadian companies were among the first to set up offices

in Japan. Senior staff at Canadian packing companies spend

large amounts of time in international markets or hosting

international buyers. International trade infrastructure and

logistics are second nature to small and large Canadian firms.

Furthermore, the two large beef firms, which are U.S.-owned,

have access to both Canadian and U.S. global resources.

Canada is not a neophyte in the global meat trade business.

Canadian traders know global markets. Given this experience

and knowledge, the question remains as to why trade occurs

in the manner it does. More particularly, why does so

much product go to the U.S. as opposed to other, possibly

better markets?

The Canadian industry continues to look at ways to add

value, either through new products, new specifications, or

selling further down the value chain – however, it operates in a

global environment and still has to be competitive with regard

to price. Furthermore, the industry spends a vast amount of

time on market access issues (non-tariff barriers) to ensure it

does not have a competitive disadvantage in export markets.

This is a real challenge for the industry. Regardless of these

efforts it still has politically-based access issues in some

major markets.

Furthermore, the industry has great experience in logistics.

14 Canadian Meat Business July/August 2008 meatbusiness.ca

However, shipping outside the U.S.

continues to be a major challenge

facing the industry. As well, continued

escalation of shipping costs and the

current lack of containers in the North

American market are critical issues for

the industry.

Trading dynamics

Global meat marketing and trade

are not conceptually different from

domestic meat trade in terms of basic

buying and selling. While the logistics of

shipping, customs, brokerage and local

customs add layers of complication, the

fundamentals of supply and demand

are paramount.

Emphasis should also be placed on

the fact that global meat trade over the

course of a day, week or year is simply

the sum of thousands of individual

business transactions. These business

transactions are conducted by staff

at meat packer, broker, distributor,

retailer and foodservice operations in

the buying and selling countries. With

the exception of major markets, such

as the U.S., Japan, Korea and Australia,

the well-established Canadian trading

houses are really the ones exporting.

Each individual transaction is

conducted on either spot markets or

on contract. For sellers, spot or contract

sales are based primarily on finding the

highest price or longer-term marketing

Canadian traders know

global markets. Given

this experience and

knowledge…why does so

much product go to the

U.S. as opposed to other,

possibly better markets?

considerations that result in higher

revenues. For buyers, spot or contract

sales are based primarily on finding

the lowest price or other longer-term

marketing considerations that result in

lower costs.

At the most basic level, meat flows

to the highest priced market, net of

the transport and logistics costs. The

first choice of meat traders in Canada,

for most cuts, is the domestic market

because, net of transport and logistics,

the domestic market is usually the

highest priced. After that point, the

secondary choice is typically regional

markets in the U.S., which is likely going

to be the highest priced destination

after transport and logistics. It is easy

to generalize about the U.S. being the

highest priced because the U.S. has the

highest disposable income.

Beyond that, however, there are

certain cuts that are more highly valued

in overseas or more distant countries.

For example, certain offals and variety

meats such as tripe and hearts have

almost zero value in Canada and the

U.S. These cuts do, however, meet a

market demand in certain Pacific Rim

countries, the Middle East and Eastern

Europe. As such, these meats are sold to

buyers in those countries if the values,

net of transport and logistics, bring back

a positive net return.

In addition to those basic premises,

there are also selling decisions based on

the type of cut and specifications. For

example, consider the situation where a

boneless, highly trimmed and specified


July/August 2008 Canadian Meat Business 15

strap-on loin is currently trading for 300

yen in Japan (approx. $2.85 Canadian).

The Canadian trader will work with

yield and labour formulas to determine

the equivalent value in the domestic

market. Based on those calculations, a

decision will be made on whether to sell

it domestically in the same form or to sell

it in another form, either domestically

or internationally. Again, the net

price determines where the meat is to

be sold.

Commodity business rules

The best way to consider the pricing

issue is that there is simply one price

for a cut of meat, which only differs

by transport and logistics costs across

the world. This price is determined by

global supply and demand generally,

and specifically by local supply and

demand in the given market. In other

words, global supply and demand sets

a guideline pricing level and local

conditions set the price around that

starting level.

It is also important to note that small

swings in pricing in either domestic or

international markets will immediately

change what meat is sold and where. For

example, a sudden increase in Russian

demand for frozen hams will result in

small price swings that will pull hams

out of storage, away from domestic

processors. A decline in Korean demand

for collar butts results in increased fresh

butt sales into the North American

market. The prospect of the Korean

market opening to U.S. beef had a

major impact on beef short ribs, which

are very popular in Korea. The pricing

impact began before the deal was

even final.

Global meat trade is a commodity

business driven by modest changes

in price. In fact, global meat trade is

the penultimate commodity business.

Global competition and supply will

ensure that this will not change. While

different markets may have different cut

specifications, ultimately sellers will trade

based on the net values returned after

accounting for yields and labour. While

foreign buyers may be very demanding

in certain respects, they are no more or

less demanding than domestic buyers.

Furthermore, while some firms may

Certain offals and variety

meats have almost zero

value in Canada and

the U.S. These cuts do,

however, meet a market

demand in certain Pacific

Rim countries, the Middle

East and Eastern Europe.

have developed long-term contracts or

relationships, these are ultimately based

on price or net delivered values. The

meat trade is a commodity business and

price rules. Meat is traded according

to pricing in different markets around

the world. Differences in pricing

between markets for like-products are

immediately arbitraged by supply and

demand signals.

Another point to note is that global

buying and selling is conducted in an

environment that is more informed and

up to date than ever before. Buyers and

sellers have ready access to both private

and public pricing guides such as the

USDA’s National Carlot Pork and Beef

reports. These reports are updated on

the Internet twice daily with the latest

reported trades. Sophisticated buyers

in advanced countries such as Japan will

have personnel in producing countries

monitoring pricing levels and making

spot and contract transactions based on

market movements. Large buyers and

sellers stay informed of trading levels in

all markets via electronic data transfers

or telephone. Pricing intelligence is

gained through ongoing minute-byminute

contact with traders around

the world. Both buyers and sellers are

well informed about relative global

pricing levels. As noted above, meat is

traded according to pricing in different

markets around the world.

Canadian leadership

As a trading nation, Canadian meat

packers have been among the first to

develop and expand global trading

networks and contacts. Canadian

meat packers are well informed and

have developed sophisticated market

intelligence to ensure that meat is traded

to the most profitable destination for

either the short or long term.

Canadian packers are working

constantly to improve their ability to

maximize margins through domestic

and international markets. However,

there are very few untapped market

gems just waiting to be exploited. If

there were, they would probably be

located somewhere in the U.S.

Kevin Grier is a senior market analyst with the

George Morris Centre.

16 Canadian Meat Business July/August 2008 meatbusiness.ca

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July/August 2008 Canadian Meat Business 17

Hamburger Holiday

Just in time for that summer road trip – an interview with the author of Hamburger

America, a state-by-state guide to the best burgers south of the 49th parallel.

Photo: George Motz

Nick’s Hamburger Shop, which opened in Bookings, South

Dakota in 1929, is one of 100 restaurants George Motz

says offers the “whole burger experience.”

By Alan MacKenzie


ot an appetite and an urge to hit the road

this summer?

A new book from American writer and

documentary filmmaker George Motz, offers the ultimate

itinerary for a road trip to the U.S. – particularly if you like

ground beef sandwiched in a squishy white bun.

Hamburger America: One Man’s Cross-Country Odyssey to

Find The Best Burgers in the Nation is Motz’ follow-up to

his documentary film, also named Hamburger America.

Published by Running Press, the book looks at 100 great

American burger joints within its 300 pages and comes with

a DVD of the hour-long film.

Divided by state, the guide takes a fun look not only at

each of the burgers, but the restaurants they’re served in,

essential to what Motz calls the “whole burger experience.”

Motz says the inspiration for the book was to shine a light

on this “all-American” experience, as he fears it won’t

be long until the McDonald’s-style hamburger becomes

the reference point for what a burger should look and

taste like.

“I just don’t want people turning around in 20 years and

looking at the fast food model, this frozen puck, and saying

‘this is a hamburger,’” he says.

In fact none of the stops on his journey are chains or

franchises – although he does dedicate a page to defending

a select few, including the California-based In-N-Out Burger

and Five Guys, a relative newcomer located throughout the

Eastern U.S.

Instead, Motz visits greasy spoons with names like Irv’s

Burger, Nick’s Hamburger Shop and Gilley’s PM Lunch,

18 Canadian Meat Business July/August 2008 meatbusiness.ca

as well as the odd watering hole,

such as Casino El Camino in Austin,

Texas and the Billy Goat Tavern &

Grill in Chicago (which inspired the

famous Saturday Night Live sketch

that featured John Belushi shouting

“Cheezborger! Cheezborger!”)

“I stayed away from all the top ten

lists,” Motz says. “Most of the time

they’re wrong. They’re put together

by food critics who don’t know what

they’re talking about. The best way to

find a great hamburger is to talk to the

locals. For my research, I would get

off the plane and ask at the car rental

counter, or I would just ask the two

dudes sitting at the bar.”

Another criteria to be included in

the book, Motz says, was that each

establishment needed to have had

a burger on the menu for at least

20 years.

“I just don’t want people

turning around in 20 years

and looking at the fast food

model, this frozen puck, and

saying ‘this is a hamburger.’”

– George Motz

“After 20 years, you’re getting into the

second generation of ownership,” he

explains, calling these privately owned

restaurants “the primary sources” for

hamburgers. “What happens in these

restaurants, if they’re in the second

or third generation, is they’re run

by grandsons and granddaughters

who are afraid to change anything….

they want it to be exactly like how

their grandfather experienced the

hamburger 60 years ago.”

What surprised Motz in his research

was the regional diversity of the

hamburger. Restaurants in the Pacific

Northwest, he notes, specialize in

adding “Goop Sauce” (a mixture

of mustard, mayonnaise and pickle

relish) to their burgers; Oklahoma

is the “epicenter of the onion-fried

burger movement” – in which thinly

sliced onions are pressed into the beef

as it grills; and Minnesota is home to

the Jucy Lucy – two quarter-pound

burger patties crimped together with

a folded slice of American cheese

hidden inside, served with a warning

that you will “burn your face off” if you

bite into it too soon.


July/August 2008 Canadian Meat Business 19

Photos: George Motz

If you’re looking for an onion fried burger, head down

to Oklahoma – “the epicentre of the onion

fried burger movement.”

Chicago’s Billy Goat Tavern might look like an ordinary

pub from the outside, but it’s also the inspiration for

a famous Saturday Night Live sketch.

“If you don’t patronize these places and don’t see them for what they are, then they

will go away – and we’ll end up just having this homogenized burger.”

– George Motz

“There’s also the cheeseburgers of central Connecticut,”

he says. “They’re actually cooked in a steaming box, a

strange contraption where they steam the beef into a sort

of grey cube. On top of that they pour this molten white

cheese, so the combination of the white cheese and the grey

matter doesn’t look so great, but it really tastes amazing.”

Motz – whose wife, a vegetarian, helps take care of his

“hamburger footprint” – contends that the book is not an

“ultimate” guide, but a chance to visit a slice of Americana

that he fears could be all but eliminated by the North

American big box, fast food culture. He hopes that nostalgia

and the desire for a better tasting, more authentic burger

will keep these places alive.

Of course, he notes there is a downside to nostalgia

as well, with today’s generation growing up in a fast

food world.

“One day we’ll be speaking of these (fast food restaurants)

with a tinge of nostalgia, even though they’re ruining the

hamburger experience in this country,” Motz says.

“The hamburger is not the only thing in America that is

going away – there are so many things like this – but I was

able to isolate this one subject that’s near and dear to my

heart,” he adds. “If you don’t patronize these places and

don’t see them for what they are, then they will go away

– and we’ll end up just having this homogenized burger.”

While the book took seven years to write and research,

Motz’s personal quest is not over, as he knows there are

thousands of burger havens throughout the U.S. that he

hasn’t visited.

“The book is a list of 100 of the best,” he says. “I don’t

think anyone can be so bold as to say they know it all.”

Perhaps it’s time for him to take his journey north, to find

out what the regional diversity exists in our burger joints?

“I’ve been to Canada, but never to have a burger,”

he says.

20 Canadian Meat Business July/August 2008 meatbusiness.ca



Prairie Swine Centre opens new sow research facility.

By Ken Engele and Lee Whittington

Photo: Prairie Swine Centre

Brian Andries, manager of operations describes the

breeding facilities during the grand opening of the new

sow research facility on June 10.


une 10, 2008 celebrated the grand opening of

Prairie Swine Centre’s new Sow Research Facility.

Made possible through a $2 million wedge funding

agreement between the Saskatchewan Ministry

of Agriculture and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

the new research facility will continue to provide the

capability to meet current industry needs in addition to

answering future questions that arise relating to gestation

housing alternatives.

The new facility provides several opportunities: 1) allows

the replacement of ageing facilities that were requiring

a high level of maintenance, 2) reduced operating costs

resulting from improvements in energy efficiency and

labour. Improved labour efficiency comes from combining

the four current sow facilities into one sow research unit,

in addition automating the feed system in the new facility.

In order to ensure the new facility would meet internal

and external stakeholder requirements, discussion within

three distinct groups was enlisted: 1) pork producers with

direct experience in alternative sow housing in Canada

or elsewhere, 2) pork producers with a specific interest in

alternative sow housing, 3) producer boards, government,

and other organizations that has a vested interest in policy

implications of alternative sow housing and welfare.

Research capacity

The new barn was designed with feedback received from

industry meetings held throughout Canada. However,

first of these priorities is the production of piglets for

the nursery and grower-finisher research program, to

ensure a functional production facility. A second role

the facility must execute is to function as a research unit

flexible enough to conduct novel sow research based on

industry input.

Some of the suggested research projects that were

mentioned by a large number of producers include:

• Training mature sows previously housed in stalls to

use ESF (Electronic Sow Feeders). How to determine

as early as possible which sows cannot be trained so

they can be returned to stalls for balance of

the pregnancy.

• What means are available to reduce space allowance

per sow. For example, location, shape and size of

loafing area.

• How to minimize space used when building a ‘cafeteria’

feeding system that requires sows to be moved daily

from loafing area into feeding area.

• The size of stalls required varies depending on their

use. Are they feeding versus sleeping stalls.

• The housing and management of gilts and first liter

sows separately from mature sows. Is this age group

best served by having some time in stalls or treated as a

separate group not to be mixed with mature sows?

22 Canadian Meat Business July/August 2008 meatbusiness.ca

Photo: Prairie Swine Centre

The new farrowing rooms incorporate the latest design features

to ensure maximum sow comfort and piglet survivability.

Barn design

To address these and other research needs the barn will

be designed to allow key elements like group size, space

per sow, and feeding for stage of gestation and parity

questions to be investigated. This has resulted in the

gestation portion of the barn incorporating additional

space to replicate the various scenarios that might be seen

on a commercial farm. To do this the basic gestation barn

will consist of six large pens each of which accommodate

two weeks of breedings. Each of these two-week breeding

groups will be housed in two rows of lock-in stalls separated

by a shared slatted area of 10 feet. In addition, a solid floor

area will form a ‘T’ on the end of the shared slatted area.

This design allows the most popular systems to be tested,

producers may wish to pursue in developing a system that

ensures low cost productivity as well as embracing a group

housing component.

Ken Engele is the assistant manager, information services for Prairie

Swine Centre.

Lee Whittington is the Prairie Swine Centre's president and CEO.

A second role the facility must execute is to

function as a research unit flexible enough to

conduct novel sow research based on

industry input.

including standard 24 inch gestation stalls, walk-in lockin

stalls for group housing, replicating a cafeteria feeding

system moving sows daily from a non-feeding group pen into

the walk-in stall, and floor feeding in groups. ESF feeding

is not anticipated in this facility since there are seven

units at the PSC Elstow Research Farm. This design also

allows the maximum flexibility to test space requirements

under different scenarios and the effect that may have on

animal behaviour.

The bottom line

Research capability is being designed into the new sow

barn to accommodate studying the effect of key components

of sow management, particularly those that have to do with

gestation sow management and housing such as space

allowance, group size and feeding. Each of these will be

critical factors in developing any renovation that pork


July/August 2008 Canadian Meat Business 23


Lakeside sale should be positive for cattle feeders.

By Kevin Grier

Tyson Foods, Springdale, is

selling the packing, feedyard

and fertilizer assets of Lakeside

Farm Industries Ltd., and its subsidiary

Lakeside Packers, to XL Foods, Calgary.

The $107 million (Canadian) transaction

includes $57 million, which will be paid

at closing. The remaining $50 million,

plus interest, will be paid over a five-year

period following closing. Both companies

anticipate completing the sale by the end

of September.

After the initial disappointment of not

having a third domestic bidder passes,

cattle feeders will generally be pleased

that XL purchased the Brooks operation.

The bottom line was that Tyson was

going to get out, and at least cattlemen

can be assured that the operation is in

good hands.

U.S. stock analysts have been eying

Brooks and have been questioning

Tyson management regarding its future

status. On Jan. 28, Tyson CEO Dick

Bond was essentially asked how he could

keep Brooks open when he had already

decided to shutter Emporia, Kansas. One

argument was that he did not need Brooks

since he had the Pasco plant nearby

in Washington.

He acknowledged the problems in

Canada such as the exchange rate, high

barley pricing and the resulting feeder

cattle loss. He said, however, their goal

was to keep the product they processed in

Canada and be able to sell it in Canada.

They did not want to rely so much on

the U.S. market for sales from that

plant. He went on to say he thought they

were competitively positioned to keep

operating at Lakeside, despite some shortterm

problems. At the time, he said, “what

we are doing in Canada is viable for the

long term.”

As such, we see that the “viable for the

long term,” meant it was viable for about

five months. In the Tyson news release

June 25, Bond was quoted as saying

“Lakeside no longer fits the long-term

strategy of our company…” In its last

quarterly report on Apr. 28, Tyson stated

that, “operating results for the second

quarter and six months of fiscal 2008 were

negatively impacted by higher operating

costs and losses at our Lakeside operation

in Canada. It is never a good sign when a

Canadian operation is negatively cited in

a U.S. financial report.

Already the U.S. stock analysts are

weighing in favourably. In a June 25

Credit Suisse report entitled, The Incredible

Shrinking Beef Business, the company

said, “In the short-run…, the closure

helps reduce losses that we suspect the

company was incurring both in terms of

cash flow and earnings. (In the long run)

we think Tyson made the right decision

to sell this facility. Labor shortages have

plagued Lakeside for years as workers in

the Alberta province have migrated to the

higher-paying oil industry. In addition, the

Canadian cattle industry as a whole is in

the midst of a massive liquidation having

never fully recovered from the taint of

mad cow disease.”

24 Canadian Meat Business May/June 2008 meatbusiness.ca

XL moves forward

Lakeside currently employs 2,300

people and has the capacity to slaughter

and process 4,700 cattle per day according

to Tyson. Cattle Buyers Weekly, however, says

that Lakeside’s actual capacity is just 4,000

per day.

For its part, XL Foods plans to

continue operating the Lakeside facility

after the sale is completed. “We believe

the Lakeside plant and cattle feeding

operation will complement our other beef

operations in Alberta and Saskatchewan,”

Brian Nilsson, co-chief executive officer of

XL Foods Inc., said in a press release. “In

addition, it will help strengthen our ability

to meet the needs of our North American

customer base. We intend to make the

transition of ownership as smooth as

possible.” At the appropriate time, this

will include informational meetings with

members of the Lakeside staff.

XL is part of the Nilsson Bros. Group,

a Canadian cattle feeding and marketing

company. Nilsson Bros. entered in the

meatpacking business in the late 1990's

with the purchase of Edmonton Meat

Packing and XL Foods. The business

currently includes packing plants in

Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta; Moose

Jaw, Saskatchewan; Omaha, Nebraska and

Nampa, Idaho.

There have also been several opinions

expressed suggesting that the purchase

price was a very good deal for the Nilsson’s.

Certainly, if compared to replacement

costs, it is a deal. The view is that it was

sold cheaply as a reflection of the limited

prospects for the industry. I am not so

The fact that the beef packing

industry is down to two major

players in Canada and three in

the U.S. should help to dispel

the myth that the sector is a

lucrative profit machine.

sure, however, that the sale price was so

cheap. The first point to note is that Tyson

likely paid about $45 million for the plant

in 1994, according to Steve Kay of Cattle

Buyers Weekly. Kay also estimates that they

spent up to $90 million in upgrades. Over

the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the plant was

one of the better plants in the IBP regime.

Of course, with the border closure from

the second half of 2003 through mid-

2005 the plant was generating exceptional

returns. I don’t think the plant owes

Tyson anything.

As a final point regarding the purchase,

it is important to note that despite the fact

Tyson is financing part of the price for five

years, the company will not be involved in

Lakeside at all.

Both sides have something to be

pleased with in terms of the deal. From

the Nilsson’s perspective, their reputation

for being shrewd buyers remains well

intact. For Tyson, they were going to get

out anyway, and they got $107 million

for doing so. A Tyson spokeswoman said

that as of June 27, “We have heard only

positive comments about the deal.”

Capacity and competitive


There are two key questions cattle

feeders will be asking. The first will be

regarding the future of the two main

XL kill plants in Calgary and Moose Jaw.

The second will relate to the competitive

bidding situation.

Nilsson’s quote that “the Lakeside

plant and cattle feeding operation will

complement our other beef operations in

Alberta and Saskatchewan” suggests they

are planning to keep both kill plants open.

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July/August 2008 Canadian Meat Business 25

In fact, Nilsson has stated directly that they do not plan to close

Calgary. They do, however, plan on accessing other synergies as a

result of the Lakeside acquisition.

However, keeping the two XL kill plants open in addition

to Brooks would be surprising. There are 4 plants in Alberta

and Saskatchewan: Cargill, High River; Lakeside, Brooks; XL,

Calgary; and XL, Moose Jaw. They have a combined capacity

of about 64,000 to 65,000 head per week. Total kills have been

averaging fewer than 47,000 head in the two provinces, meaning

capacity in the region is less than 75 per cent. Often, capacity is

much less.

Previous George Morris Centre research has shown that a

change in capacity from near full capacity to 70 per cent resulted

in increased costs per head of $26. This is a very conservative

estimate but it needs to be recognized that even a $10/head

differential is a huge competitive disadvantage.

If XL were to close the Calgary plant, capacity in the region

would decline by 5,000 head per week. At the same time, however,

capacity utilization rates would increase to about 80 per cent,

assuming that kill levels remain the same. It makes more sense

to close Calgary, given its small size and real estate value. Moose

Jaw, on the other hand, is in the heart of cow country. While it

is generally regarded by cattle feeders as positive to have plenty

of capacity, it is much better to have plants running efficiently.

Nothing is more detrimental to the industry than its current rate

of capacity utilization, which is likely the main reason Tyson left.

In other words, it is better to have efficient plants running near

capacity than to have unused capacity.

With regard to competitive bidding, there is no doubt that

from the cattle feeder’s perspective, it is better to have XL and

Tyson competing for Alberta-based plants. Nevertheless it also

needs to be remembered that long before IBP bought Lakeside

in 1994, IBP was an important presence in the Alberta market.

IBP’s Pasco, Washington plant saw southern Alberta as part of

its supply region. Even after the Lakeside purchase, Pasco was a

regular bidder, often competing with its sister plant in Brooks.

In addition, this action may even heighten the competition in

Alberta between Agri-Beef in Toppenish and Pasco. Toppenish,

which kills about 7,000 per week, is about hour away from Pasco.

As such, it is reasonable to expect that Tyson will continue to be

very active in southern Alberta.

If Tyson has decided they are going to ride the Pasco horse,

it is expected that Tyson would be a formidable competitor in

Alberta. They have not, however, been making moves in that

regard. They are not openly attempting to tie up Alberta cattle for

the fall once they are out of Brooks and they are not reassuring

current suppliers. Alberta cattle feeders need to keep an eye on

Pasco more than they need to worry about XL Calgary.

Furthermore, I am not certain that Tyson actually made the

right decision to abandon Brooks and stick with Pasco. While

it is true that the Canadian prairies are going to see more cow

liquidation, there will still be a massive herd when the liquidation

is through. Furthermore, grain is the most important factor in the

cattle and beef industry. In that regard, again there are current

challenges but, long-term, Alberta has the advantage.

The fact that the beef packing industry is down to two major

players in Canada and three in the U.S. should help to dispel the

myth that the sector is a lucrative profit machine.

Within that context, the loss of Lakeside had long been feared

by cattle feeders. Now cattle feeders can go forward with the

knowledge that the plant is in strong hands.

Kevin Grier is a senior market analyst with the George Morris Centre.

26 Canadian Meat Business July/August 2008 meatbusiness.ca

Making Every Blade Count

By David Elias


attle producers have it tough these days. High feed

costs are among the most daunting challenges.

Producers have long relied on grain as feed because it

was inexpensive and high in energy, which helped beef

up these critters. Now less grain is available in the world, and

feed grain is expensive, so alternatives are necessary.

To address this reality, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

(AAFC) is working with the Manitoba Cattle Producers

Association (MCPA) and the Province of Manitoba to explore

cost-effective feed alternatives. AAFC scientists Dr. Shannon

Scott and Dr. Hushton Block at the Brandon Research Centre in

Manitoba are examining forage-based solutions.

“This centre has been working to develop a feed management

package based on alfalfa forage and barley to help producers

make the most of their resources and ultimately minimize their

costs,” says Block.

“In a nutshell, the goal is to make the animal heavy and

healthy in the least amount of time, at the lowest cost,” explains

Martin Unrau, president of the MCPA. “But it’s harder and

harder to make a living producing a premium product for our

valued customers.”

A famed forage flower

Alfalfa is famous for its desirable forage characteristics: it’s

perennial so it re-grows every year. And if properly managed, it

can pull nutrients from the air into the soil (something called

nitrogen fixing). There are expensive downsides, however. It

may need to be replanted if it’s not well-managed, and it causes

cows to bloat, and possibly die, if they gorge themselves on it.

Nevertheless, the pros of alfalfa outweigh the cons, which

is why it is widely-used as forage. The AAFC centre’s early

research suggests that if alfalfa is properly mixed with other

pasture vegetation, the need to fertilize may be reduced or


Finding alternatives in a world of high-cost feed.

And if the alfalfa is properly grazed, it may not

need replanting.

“Current results suggest that knowing when to graze,

and what to plant can save you fertilizer or seed costs,”

Block explains.

Perennial forage plants like alfalfa are amazing. When they

sense winter coming, they stop sending nutrients up to their

leaves and start sending them down to their roots. This stores

their energy in a safe place so the plants can sprout quickly in

the springtime. If plants are grazed while they’re busy storing

this energy, they’re less likely to survive the winter.

Once all the plant’s energy is safely stored, and the ground

is completely frozen, the plant can then be grazed again. But

during the in-between time cattle need to stay away from these

pasture forages and given something else to eat (known as

‘deferred grazing’).

Not just for beer

To feed cattle while alfalfa pastures prepare for winter, AAFC

researcher Mario Therrien is creating a ‘waxy’ barley variety with

characteristics that would preserve it through the fall. It would

be cut into piles (swaths) and used to feed hungry cattle during

that important fall period when pastures need a break.

This is also handy because pasture forage is scarce in winter

and stored forage is expensive, so this barley could reduce feed

Photo: AAFC

Manitoba is home to some of the world’s

best pasture and forage.

storage costs and off-farm feed purchases.

“We did some early tests on this barley’s spoilage resistance,

but before the tests were complete, the local deer were already

helping themselves,” explains Block. “If the deer prefers this

waxy barley, we hope cattle will too.”

Block believes these management methods could help

producers increase pasture productivity by as much as 50 to 100

per cent without major costs increases.

“Grazing may also be extended into the cold months through

a method called ‘winter bale feeding’ where numerous hay

bales are placed throughout a pasture,” Block says. “A movable

fencing system is used to control when cattle can access each

bale. This allows forage to be a primary feed source during the

snowy season, while saving on winter feeding expenses.”

What it means for consumers

Consumers expect tender, well-marbled beef, and that’s what

the Brandon Research Centre aims to produce for consumers.

To ensure their forage research produces the best results in

cattle and the final meat products, the scientists team up with

specialists in meat quality and food science.

“We work with other research teams in Western Canada to see

how our research affects the carcass of animals,” says Block. “If

we help producers earn a better living producing quality, healthy

beef for Canadians, we’ve done our job.”

David Elias is a communications advisor at Agriculture

and Agri-Food Canada in Winnipeg.


July/August 2008 Canadian Meat Business 27

NAMP Announces Program for Annual Convention


he North American Meat Processors Association

(NAMP) has announced the program and speakers

for its Annual Convention and Outlook Conference,

to be held Oct. 16 to 19 at the Ritz Carlton Lake Las

Vegas in Henderson, NV.

The program focuses on “Critical Issues in 2009: Your

Markets…Food Safety…Your Raw Material Suppliers.”

The blue ribbon speaker line-up features:

• Chris Miller, principal meat economist at Sara Lee


• Mike Miller, chief operating officer of Cattle-Fax,

• Al Almanza, administrator of USDA Food Safety Inspection

Service (FSIS),

• Tim Powell, senior manager of Technomic, Inc., and

• Dr. Nate Booth, veteran business performance coach.

The speaker line-up also features NAMP senior science advisor

Dr. Jim Marsden, Regent’s professor at Kansas State University

(KSU), NAMP’s Canadian government affairs representative

Robert de Valk, and NAMP’s own staff experts.

NAMP also continues the recall training it started at its March

Management Conference, with media training for executive

level managers from Daren Williams, executive director for

spokesperson development at the National Cattlemen’s Beef

Association (NCBA).

This year’s convention chair is Jim Kenny of Urner Barry, who

worked with NAMP president Mark Shuket and NAMP staff to

build a program designed to offer meat and poultry companies

insights into what they face next year.

The Convention and Outlook Conference is open to the

entire industry, and NAMP welcomes non-members.

The Ritz Carlton Lake Las Vegas is on a 320-acre lake just 17

miles from the Las Vegas Strip. This AAA Four Diamond luxury

Las Vegas resort offers:

• Two world-class golf courses

• A Mobil Four-Star rated luxury spa

• Easy access to McCarran International Airport and the Las

Vegas Strip

Lake Las Vegas is home to two world-class golf courses that

adjoin the hotel. The Falls Golf Club features an 18-hole course

designed by Tom Weiskopf, while Reflection Bay Golf Club

features a Jack Nicklaus Signature design course.

For more information on the Convention/Outlook

Conference, go to namp.com.

events calendar

August 2008

3 to 6

IAFP 95th Annual Meeting

Columbus, Ohio


September 2008


Food Safety Forum 2008

Vancouver, B.C.


18 to 19

CMC Technical Symposium: New

Packaging Technologies to Improve

and Maintain Food Safety

Sheraton Gateway Airport Hotel

Toronto, Ont.


28 to 29

Alberta Foodservice Expo

Northlands AgriCom,

Edmonton, Alta.


October 2008

5 to 6

Ethnic & Specialty Food Expo

International Centre

Toronto, Ont.


16 to 19

North American Meat Processors

66th Annual Convention

Ritz Carlton Hotel, Lake Las Vegas

Henderson, Nevada


19 to 23

SIAL 2008: the Global Food


Paris Nord Villepinte Exhibition

Center – France


November 2008

2 to 11

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair

Direct Energy Centre,

Exhibition Place

Toronto, Ont.


January 2009

25 to 26

BC Foodservice Expo

BC Place, Vancouver, B.C.


April 2009

1 to 3

SIAL Montréal - North American

Food Marketplace

Montreal, Que.


May 2009

5 to 7

PACKEX Toronto

International Centre

Mississauga, Ont.


28 Canadian Meat Business July/August 2008 meatbusiness.ca

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| Cross Countr y News |



Minister Appoints Chair and Board

Members to New Agency

The Alberta government has named the chair and the initial

board members of the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency

(ALMA), calling the move the “first major milestone” in its

strategy to revitalize the provincial livestock and meat industry.

Joe Makowecki, president of Heritage Frozen Foods, has

been appointed as the first chair of ALMA and Ted Bilyea,

Charlie Gracey and Kee Jim have been named as its first

board members.

“This agency will play a vital role in re-invigorating Alberta's

livestock industry and it was essential that we found the right

people to lead it,” George Groeneveld, Alberta's Minister of

Agriculture and Rural Development, said in a press release. “As

chair, Joe Makowecki brings a wealth of knowledge, experience

and a long history of success. Under his direction, the agency is

well prepared to spear-head the kind of fundamental changes

that are required.”

First announced in June as part of the provincial government's

Alberta Livestock and Meat Strategy, the new agency is modeled

after similar successful organizations in other countries. It

will redirect government funds, resources and programs to

help revitalize the livestock sector, enhance the value chain

and achieve the necessary changes to build a competitive

livestock industry.

“Alberta faces intense competition in the domestic and

international marketplaces for livestock products,” Makowecki

added. “Our competitors are well organized - we must be too. I

am looking forward to working with the new board as we work

to create an environment where Alberta's livestock industry can

thrive and prosper.”

ALMA is designed to help market Alberta as a leader and

innovator in Canada and throughout the world. This year, the

Alberta government will provide $56 million to support its work.


Patience Leaves Prairie Swine Centre

The Saskatoon-based Prairie Swine Centre announced that Dr.

John F. Patience has stepped down as its president and CEO after

21 years.

Patience made his farewell on June 13. He will begin a new

position in swine research and extension at Iowa State University

in September 2008. Lee Whittington, previously the manager of

information services, will take over as acting president.

Whittington joined the centre in 1992 to develop and manage

an industry-focused information program that would rapidly

and effectively bring new research information to the pork

industry. He and the technology transfer program have received

international recognition and several awards for the innovative

and effective approaches used to speed the adoption of new

technology by pork producers.

He stated in a press release that, “the legacy that was started

by Dr. Patience and supported by research, technical and

administrative staff at the centre over these many years will be

well-served” by the new sow research unit that was opened on

June 10.

Photo: Manitoba Cattle Enhancement Council

New Beef Plant Planned for Winnipeg

Natural Prairie Beef, a

Manitoba company controlled

by beef producers, purchased

the former Maple Leaf Foods

hog processing plant on

Marion Street in Winnipeg

for $1.2 million, with plans

to convert it to a beef

processing facility.

The purchase was made possible by an investment from the

Manitoba Cattle Enhancement Council (MCEC).

After an initial set of plant upgrades are complete this fall,

Natural Prairie expects to begin processing premium-branded,

naturally-raised Manitoba beef. The company expects to

begin marketing its products in Manitoba through retailers

and direct to consumers in 2008.

According to local news reports the upgrades will cost

approximately $25 million.

“This is a major step towards the creation of a new federallyinspected

processing plant in Manitoba,” said Bill Uruski,

chair of MCEC said in a press release. “Over the short-term,

this plant will be developing new markets for Manitoba

beef. Over the long-term, the goal is to market our beef to

the world and that is vital for the success of our provincial

cattle industry.”

According to the release, the company plans to target niche

markets that have demonstrated growing demand, including

sales of Natural (hormone-free) beef and kosher beef in

North America. By focusing on niche markets, Natural Prairie

will avoid having to compete directly with the industry's major

commodity-driven packers. Plans call for the completed plant

to have the capacity to process 250 head per week. It would be

easily upgraded to handle up to 500 head per week.

The plant will employ 15-20 people starting in late 2008.

The company expects the plant will employ about 80

people by 2010 once it completes renovations and ramps

up production.


Maple Leaf to Sell Burlington Primary Pork

Processing Business

Maple Leaf Foods has begun the formal process of selling its

Burlington, Ont. primary pork processing plant. The company

said the sale, which should be completed by the end of 2008, is

part of its re-focusing of its protein operations towards prepared

meats, meals and bakery.

The 365,000 square foot Burlington facility has a processing

capacity of up to 50,000 hogs per week, is located in close

proximity to major domestic and U.S. markets, transportation

routes and a skilled labour pool, and is licensed to export its

pork products to nearly 50 countries worldwide. Maple Leaf

said it has invested significant capital in this location over the

past decade to develop a very extensive value-added business

serving well-established domestic and international customers.

30 Canadian Meat Business July/August 2008 meatbusiness.ca

| Cross Countr y News |


Court Approves Settlement Agreement in

Ridley BSE Lawsuits

The Quebec Superior Court on May 28 approved a $6

million settlement entered into by Winnipeg and Minnesotabased

feed maker Ridley Inc. and the representative plaintiffs

in the BSE class action lawsuits filed against the company

three years ago.

“While affecting only the Quebec lawsuit, the Quebec

court's order is a significant step toward final resolution of

the pending BSE cases against Ridley,” the company said in a

press release.

Plaintiffs filed claims in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and

Saskatchewan in April 2005 against Ridley Inc. and the

Government of Canada for losses allegedly incurred by

Canadian cattle farmers as a result of international bans on

trade in Canadian beef following the May 2003 diagnosis of

bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in an Alberta cow.

The Quebec lawsuit was authorized as a class action on June

15 last year. None of the remaining actions have been certified

to proceed to trial as a class action in any other province.

Under the settlement, Ridley will pay $6 million into a

plaintiffs’ settlement trust fund that will effectively cap its

exposure to the plaintiffs’ claims, and will remain a participant

in the plaintiffs’ continuing litigation against the Government

of Canada.

“In agreeing to the settlement, Ridley made no admission

of liability or wrongdoing in the matter, and will continue

to contest any allegation it was responsible for the plaintiffs’

damages,” the company said in the release.

Counsel for the plaintiffs have applied to the Ontario

court for approval of the settlement agreement and Ridley

will consent to certification of the Ontario class action for

settlement purposes.

A hearing is scheduled before the Superior Court of Justice

for Ontario on June 9 for the approval of the settlement

agreement in the Ontario action.

We can’t eat tomatoes anymore because of the North

American wide salmonella outbreak. Now, we've

just been warned to be cautious about the lettuce

we consume because of a possible E.coli outbreak.

Who would have thought that the safest part of a BLT

sandwich would be the bacon?

- David Letterman


July/August 2008 Canadian Meat Business 31

| Industr y Roundup |

Russia Ends Canadian Pork Ban

Russia lifted its two-month ban on imports of Canadian

pork as Canada upgrades the security of its export documents,

Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced June 3.

Russia closed the border to Canadian pork on Apr. 1

because of concerns about “fraudulent export documents,”

a press release from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

(CFIA) said. It also noted that the government addressed the

concerns by having the CFIA increase the security features

on certificates. Russia is Canada's third largest market for

pork, the CFIA said. Canadian pork exports to Russia in 2007

totalled $144.8 million.

KFC Canada Reaches Agreement with PETA

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)

has ended its boycott with KFC Canada restaurants, as the

company has agreed to purchase 100 per cent of its chickens

from suppliers that use controlled-atmosphere killing (CAK).

PETA calls CAK the “least cruel form of poultry slaughter

ever developed.”

According to PETA's website, KFC will also:

• Add a vegan faux-chicken item to the menu of all 461

Priszm-owned KFC restaurants (more than half of all the

KFCs in Canada);

• Improve its animal welfare audit criteria to reduce the

number of broken bones and other injuries suffered

by birds;

• Urge its suppliers to adopt better practices, including

improved lighting, lower stocking density and ammonia

levels, and a phase-out of growth-promoting drugs and

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breeding practices that painfully cripple chickens;

• Form an animal welfare advisory panel to monitor the

changes and recommend further advancements.

PETA calls the agreement an “enormous victory” - however

its boycott will continue in other countries “until they follow

Canada's lead.”

Partnership Announced Between Repak BV

and Reiser U.K.

Reiser successfully completed a sales agreement between

Repak BV and Reiser U.K. The agreement names Reiser

U.K. as sales agent for Repak packaging machines in the

United Kingdom.

Reiser began representing Repak in the United States and

Canada in 2003. This new agreement extends the cooperation

between Reiser and Repak to also include the United

Kingdom, effective June 2.

“We initiated our business cooperation with Repak in mid-

2003,” Peter Mellon, managing director of Reiser U.K., said

in a press release. “The performance, reliability and quality

of Repak packaging machines have greatly impressed both us

and our customers in the U.S. and Canada. These qualities

convinced us to deepen our business relationship with Repak

in the U.K.”

Repak is a leading manufacturer of horizontal form/fill/

seal packaging machines for the meat, poultry, seafood,

cheese and prepared food industries. The Repak is available in

a variety of models for applications of all sizes. The Repak can

produce flexible, semi-rigid, vacuum, modified-atmosphere,

and vacuum skin packages.

For almost 50 years, Reiser has been a leading supplier of

food processing and packaging machinery. The company has

gained worldwide recognition for high-quality equipment

and outstanding service and support. Reiser is headquartered

in the U.S.A. with sales and service offices in Canada and the

United Kingdom.

Value of Poultry Products on the Rise:


According to a Statistics Canada report, the value of poultry

products in Canada totalled $2.8 billion in 2007 – a 10.6 per

cent increase from 2006.

Sales of poultry meat, including turkey, showed an increase

of 13.3 per cent with a total value of $2.1 billion. The value of

egg sales increased 3.9 per cent from 2006 to $762.5 million.

Canadian farmers produced 1.2 million metric tons of

poultry meat in 2007, virtually unchanged from 2006. Chicken,

including stewing hens, accounts for 86 per cent of all poultry

meat produced. It increased 3.3 per cent from year-ago levels.

Turkey production stood at 169 000 metric tons in 2007, an

increase of 3.4 per cent from 2006.

Egg production in 2007, at 577.4 million dozen, was down

0.5 per cent from 2006. The central region produces over half

of the eggs in Canada. Ontario alone produced 227 million

dozen eggs in 2007 while Quebec, with 101.5 million dozen,

produced 17.6 per cent of the Canadian total.

More Red Meat in Canadian Diet: StatsCan

Red meats are becoming a bigger part of Canadians’ diets,

according to Statistics Canada.

32 Canadian Meat Business July/August 2008 meatbusiness.ca

| Industr y Roundup |

Statistics Canada's 2007 snapshot of food available for

consumption says the Canadian diet also includes more fresh

fruits, yogurts, cheeses, creams, exotic juices, low fat milk,

wine and spirits. Canadians also prefer less cereal and sugar,

and fewer oils, fats and eggs in their diet, the report said.

In 2007, Canadians on average had 24.5 kg of red meats,

which include beef, pork, mutton and veal; an increase of 0.7

kg from the previous year. There appears to be a shift in the

type of fish preferred by Canadians.

Estimates on food availability have been adjusted to

account for losses in cooking, storage and waste that occur

from homes, restaurants and institutions while preparing and

processing food.

London Company First Recipient of Food

Safety Certificate for Packaging Materials

The Packaging Association of Canada (PAC) announced

that Jones Packaging Inc. of London, Ont. is the first company

ever to receive certification of the association's new food safety

standards for packaging materials.

The standards, known as PACsecure, were developed over

the past five years by PAC through an 80-member steering

committee comprised of packaging and food manufacturers

and materials suppliers in conjunction with the Canadian

Food Inspection Agency to better meet the needs of food

processors and retailers.

Jim Downham, CEO of PAC, says the new standards for

plastics, paper, metal and glass packaging harmonize with the

international protocol used by the global food and beverage

industry: Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP).

HACCP is a systematic and preventative approach to food

safety that addresses biological, chemical and physical hazards

through preventative action rather than by finished product

inspection and is recognized by the Food and Agriculture

Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization.

Downham says HACCP benefits companies such as

Jones Packaging - not only in improving its manufacturing

processes, but a large number of domestic and international

food producers are requiring their packaging suppliers to

have a recognized food safety system for packaging materials

in place.

Jones produces folding cartons, pressure sensitive roll labels,

and plastic shrink sleeves at its London plant as well as folding

cartons and paper products at its Guelph, Ont. plant for the

domestic and export markets.

Farmers and processors will be able to choose whether

to use the Product of Canada labels, but if these claims

are made, the product must meet the Government’s

new guidelines.

Further Losses for Maple Leaf

Maple Leaf Foods Inc. announced further losses of $9.4

million in its second quarter report.

“We fully expected the first half of 2008 to be very difficult

for Maple Leaf due to the extreme inflation and volatility

in commodity markets,” Michael H. McCain, Maple Leaf's

president and CEO said in a release, noting that, while the first

half of 2008 has been pressured, “we believe the second half

of 2008 will show a substantial recovery as markets stabilize

and the early benefits of restructuring are realized.”

The company reported that earnings from continuing

operations before restructuring and other related costs

decreased by 64.1 per cent to $18.9 million for the quarter.

Hog production operations continued to be affected by

lower hog prices and higher feed costs. In the protein

business, declining poultry processor margins and a higher

Canadian dollar were only partly offset by improved pork

processor margins.

The company also noted that the restructuring of its protein

operations is proceeding on schedule and is expected to be

completed by the end of 2009. This involves “significantly

reducing” the size of its hog and fresh pork operations and

expanding its value added meat and meals businesses, and

includes the consolidation of six pork processing plants

into one double-shifted operation in Brandon, Man.,

which will supply raw materials for the company’s packaged

meat business.

“Product of Canada” Labels Take Effect

Dec. 31

Canada’s Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced today

the new “Product of Canada” labelling guidelines for food will

come into effect Dec. 31.

The new guidelines will require both that the contents and

processing be Canadian to qualify for the Product of Canada

label. For foods that are processed in Canada, but contain

imported ingredients, qualified “Made in Canada” labels

will be available, such as “Made in Canada from imported


The government announced in the release that since May

21, more than 1,500 Canadians weighed in on the proposed

guidelines and more than 90 per cent said they were “on the

right track.”


July/August 2008 Canadian Meat Business 33

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36 Canadian Meat Business July/August 2008 meatbusiness.ca

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| Meat Industr y Business Watch |

New Technology:

Patent Minefield or Opportunity?

Optimize your patent portfolio often, and be prepared to make hard decisions.

By James Sbrolla


y all accounts, investments in

innovation in the technology

sector have been increasing.

One of the indicators of innovation is

patenting activity and patent litigation,

and things have certainly been “heating

up” on these fronts for a while.

One way of analyzing patenting

activity is to follow patent growth

indices. There is no specific market

segment representing the meat industry

but the Cleantech area is one that has

tremendous growth in the Canadian

market and gives some indication of

the growth of intellectual property in

general. The ups and downs are affected

by resources and sometimes bottlenecks

at the United States Patent Office, but

on the whole this index at least shows

growth in wind patents, tidal/wave

energy patents, geothermal patents, and

a downward trend in hybrid/electric

vehicle patents. The indices as a whole

show that a growing number of patents

are building significant portfolios in

various segments of Cleantech. Some of

the companies involved are Canadian,

the obvious example being Ballard,

and the less obvious one Angstrom

Power Inc., a strong up-and-comer

developing fuel cell solutions for

handheld electronics.

Other indices based in Europe

show even more significant increases,

including in areas such as water

reclaiming, water purification, power

saving technologies and the like.

An even better indicator is patent

litigation, which suggests that in a

given market segment companies have

invested in R&D, paid for patents, and

the commercial interests were significant

enough that they found funds to pay for

expensive patent litigators. In the U.S.

especially, litigation around patents

has been increasing. Recent examples

include, Ovonic which sued Matsushita

for patent infringement related to

technology for covering nickel metal

hydride batteries. The parties settled

for what was reported as a cross-license

and a combined license fee of around

30 million.

The question that comes to mind

is that in an industry area where

commercialization is in many cases

in very early stages or often quite a

bit further down the road, why are

so many companies spending heavily

on patents?

According to Anthony de Fazekas,

a partner in the Intellectual Property

(“IP”) Group of Miller Thomson, LLP

who helps companies develop and

implement IP strategies: “There are

Be committed in building out

processes that don’t cost any extra

money such as having a clear policy

around disclosure of inventions and

confidential information or materials

that everybody understands.

factors that make investing in patents

especially compelling. The precise

path to commercialization is often still

fluid at the moment. For example,

with fuel cell solutions, the specifics of

winning distribution networks remain

up in the air. Standards are likely to

emerge to enable costs to come down,

but it is often unclear what combination

of technologies will win the standards

battles. With this kind of uncertainty a

natural response is to build portfolios

that can provide significant leverage

for example in cross-licensing or patent

pooling scenarios that are common in

such scenarios. But building valuable

patent portfolios requires significant

resources inside and outside the

company, which of course costs money.”

What are some of the negative

consequences that face companies

who are not in the patenting game,

or misstep? de Fazekas has this take:

“One situation that comes up is your

competitor obtaining a patent that

ends up being a key blocking patent in

bringing a technology to market. We

have seen the practical consequences

of this in the mobile device area where

companies who have the IP to play in

key patent pools pay no royalties or low

royalties, and other who do not have to

pay significant royalties, which can eat

into profit in a big way.”

What does a company do if they want

to get a kick at the ball, but they don’t

have a large patent budget? de Fazekas

offers the following advice: Get the best

patent strategy you can afford, to direct

your patenting activity. That way, even

if a company only has funds for one or

two patents, there is a higher degree of

probability that it will be on technologies

that count, or that the patent will

include the kind of specific wording that

enhance its scope and enforceability.

Tie requests to investment to a sound

patent strategy and often additional

funds are made available for this

specific purpose.

Also, work with somebody to

strategically build important internal

IP resources sooner rather than later.

These include internal patent searching

capability, monitoring competitors’

patents which is an excellent source

of competitive intelligence, and

establishing employees with defined roles

in assembling technical disclosures.

Optimize your patent portfolio

often, and be prepared to make hard

decisions often such as pulling the plug

on foreign patents to free up resources

for more. Be committed in building

out processes that don’t cost any extra

money such as having a clear policy

around disclosure of inventions and

confidential information or materials

that everybody understands.”

James Sbrolla is a Torontobased

management consultant

and can be reached at


or sbrolla@rogers.com.

38 Canadian Meat Business July/August 2008 meatbusiness.ca

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