Easy Identification of Pork Offered in Canada

CANADA - Pork Marketing Canada has unveiled a new national pork labelling initiative designed to make it easier for Canadian consumers to identify and choose Canadian pork at the supermarket.
calendar icon 21 June 2008
clock icon 6 minute read

Pork Marketing Canada is a partnership involving provincial pork industry organizations across Canada working together on several fronts including health and nutrition, food service and the retail sector. Under the voluntary initiative Canadian pork processors and retailers are being encouraged to make use of a new “Canadian Pork” label.

Consumers Deserve Choice

“We believe consumers deserve a choice,” says Pork Marketing Canada manager Roy Kruse. “Consumers have been asking us, if they had the choice to choose Canadian, how would they be able to identify it. That is the principle of the label, to be able to give it to retailers that are using Canadian products and to allow the consumer to make that choice when they make their purchase.”

Wendy Friesen, a Lowe Farm, Manitoba pork producer and District 5 director with Manitoba Pork Council, notes Canadian pork is already being offered in Canadian grocery stores but it is not always easy to identify. “We’ve been told by many people, myself included, they really do want to have the choice to choose Canadian.”

Consumes Unaware of Canadian Pork

Friesen points out a lot of people are not aware that Canadian pork can be found in Canadian grocery stores so the point of having the label is to showcase that we do already have it on the shelves. It’s not a new product. She points out studies have shown that consumers are looking for and will choose Canadian so this is a really good way to showcase the product and allow them to choose it.

Kruse notes, “A study by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture found that 90 percent of consumers felt that Canadian grown product should be easily identified in all grocery stores. Further to that, 95 percent said they would prefer to buy Canadian product.”

The red and white Canadian pork label is about the size of a loonie and bears a Canadian flag with the words “Canadian Pork” in both English and French and is easily identifiable. Kruse adds the label has been offered to all packers, processors and grocery retailers across the country and a number of stores have already come on board.

One grocery chain that has embraced the new label is Canada Safeway. Public affairs manager John Graham is confident Safeway customers will appreciate the opportunity to know when they’re buying Canadian product.

“In the grocery business increasingly consumers are looking at ways that they can buy local – support local. And a lot of products in our stores are certainly local. This helps us communicate to our customers that, when they are buying pork in our Manitoba and Saskatchewan stores, they’re buying Canadian pork.”

Consumers Confidence in Canadian Food Builds

Graham believes consumer confidence in the food system we have in Canada is running at an all time high and they want to know where their food is coming from. He recalls 30 years ago Mom would spend an average of a couple of hours a night making dinner and would know how to make it. But these daysit’s whoever is in the house who has a few minutes to make dinner. So the more knowledge that can be passed on, not only about where the product is made but also recipe ideas, the better.

Initiative Expected to Strengthen Canadian Pork Sector

“It’s a very interesting project,” says Lynn McGuire the acting director of the Adaptation Division of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada based in Ottawa. The federal government is contributing almost $1.4 million dollars to the initiative through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food program.

“It’s good that the industry is determining its need and putting forward project proposals to educate the consumers,” says McGuire.

She observes, there’s an income crisis within the industry and this initiative is a way of educating and encouraging consumers to buy more Canadian pork as a way of perhaps helping the crisis.

Kruse agrees, “The pork industry has been struggling for about a year and consumers are aware of this.”

He notes a lot of imported product has been coming into the country in the last year. The strong Canadian dollar and high feed grain and other input costs have also put a lot of pressure on Canadian pork producers.

“We hope Canadians will respond and help producers,” he says.

Friesen is confident, “When consumers are going into the store and looking through the meat shelves, if they see the label, they’ll be more inclined to purchase Canadian pork. They’ve been looking for it in the past and now they will see it. They’ll see the flag and they’ll see the pork. They know it’s an excellent product and they’ll be grabbing it off the shelf.”

She believes it makes sense to be putting our own product that we grow and raise right here in Canada on our shelves and selling our own product.

Canadian Consumers Expected to Choose Canadian Food Products

Graham agrees, if consumers can purchase a local product at equal or better quality, they’re certainly more inclined to purchase it. “Our consumers are increasingly conscious of the products they are feeding their family and, the more we can reinforce our confidence in these products and educate our consumers, then labels are certainly doing their job,” he says.

McGuire adds, “It’ll help ensure Canadians know exactly what they’re getting and get exactly what they want.”

She points out the new Canadian Pork label falls in line with the federal government’s new food labelling initiative. To help Canadians better understand the Canadian content of food products, earlier this year Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the Canadian Food Labelling Initiative to more clearly define the terms “Product of Canada” and “Made in Canada” on food products.

McGuire says, even though the Canadian pork label was developed prior to that announcement, it is consistent with the initiative.

Consumers Encouraged to Request Canadian Pork

Friesen insists there are many reasons for choosing Canadian pork, including the quality of the product, its taste and ease of cooking and the opportunity to support local industry. "I would encourage everyone who’s going into the market to ask about Canadian product and choose Canadian products and choose to support your local hog producers."

Kruse notes, we have more retailers joining the program every day. "We’re encouraging Canadians, if they don’t see the label in their retail meat case, to ask their local butcher where their product is coming from. You can challenge the retailer."

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