Developing new markets closer to home can add value and cut costs. Beef Farmers in Northern Ontario working with Local Food and Farm Co-op Ontario developed a new brand called Northwest Beef, focused on accomplishing those two objectives and adding value to the agriculture industry of Northwestern Ontario.
With some aid from federal and provincial funding, The Local Food and Farm Co-op was able to bring together beef farmers from Thunder Bay, Rainy River, and Kenora districts to look at producing and marketing beef in a new, innovative way. Consumers in the three districts were surveyed to find out what the determining factors for purchasing beef were. The results provided a basis for the farmers from the Northwest. Collectively, the farmers agreed on a brand, production practices, and a marketing strategy. A co-op of participating farmers from the three districts was formed. Each district has a processing facility for harvesting the animals and storing the meat.
The brand is called Northwest Beef and focuses on the attributes of being locally and ethically raised, with a consistent feeding practice. Using the auditing service, ‘Verified Beef Production +’, the participating farms certify their adhesion to “Raising Cattle Right…Here.”
From an economic development viewpoint, marketing local beef in the region adds more value to farmers pockets. Typically, the beef calves are sold to feedlots in Western Canada or Southern Ontario. With this practice, there are transportation and animal welfare concerns. Marketing the beef as ‘finished locally’ means that more of the dollars in the value chain stay in the area, and therefore, more gross profit per animal.
The Northwest Beef brand shows that farmers, governments, and consumers can come together to develop and create a product that can be of benefit regionally and stimulate beef expansion in Northwestern Ontario.
To read more about Northwest Beef and their story, visit their website here: https://www.northwest-beef.com/.