Canadian beef IS local beef

Canadian beef IS local beef
By Susan Evans

February 16, 2011

Local, organic, heritage, natural, traditional, 100-mile diet, farmer’s market. These are the marketing ‘buzzwords’ found on today’s menus in concepts from fine dining to quick service. The interest in buying fresh and local products – from fresh fruit and heritage vegetables, artisan breads and cheeses to locally raised meat – has never been greater. This trend is driven by consumer interest in everything from environmental and sustainability issues to the slow food movement, and it isn’t going away.  So where does Canadian beef fit in? This nationally available product continues to be the favourite local choice for restaurant operators and guests across the country.

Canadian beef comes from cattle raised on Canada’s vast grasslands and green valleys. In this pristine environment of clean air and water, Canadian beef is ranked among the best in the world for flavour, food safety and consumer satisfaction.

“There are many local, small cattle farms in Canada. In fact, the average herd size is just sixty-one head,” says Rob Giguere, senior director trade marketing with the Beef Information Centre. “While each steak may not be identified, the Canadian beef eaten in restaurants across the country comes from local ranchers and beef farmers, proud of their product. When restaurant operators choose Canadian beef, they are choosing local.

While beef cattle may be raised locally, due to logistics and plant facility locations, most beef comes from one of a few large processing facilities located across the country. These plants provide consistency, rigid quality specifications and the highest attention to food safety.  For Canada’s large retail and foodservice chains, there are no other options but to source their beef from a facility where their supply is assured.

There are local beef suppliers, available on a limited basis that can provide specialty products like natural or organic beef, or custom cutting or aging programs to small independent operators. These can be a great fit for the restaurant operator who has flexible menu offerings and is able to adapt depending on what is available.  To access this product, buyers must be willing to purchase directly from the supplier as foodservice distributors mainly source product from the larger federally inspected plants.

Canadian beef is what restaurant guests want. Ninety-seven per cent of Canadians surveyed agree that Canadian beef means quality.  Eighty-three per cent of Canadians express a preference for Canadian beef even if it costs more than imported beef. The term ‘Canadian beef’ is shorthand for a wealth of positive attributes including: it tastes good; is fresh; is high quality; is a product you can trust; is safe; is healthful; and is good value for the money.

“Clearly, Canadian beef has a high recognition and enjoyment factor with guests. Restaurant operators may want to take advantage of this and promote the fact that they are serving Canadian beef on their menu,” notes Giguere.

One way to make the most of the ‘locally produced’ trend is to pair Canadian beef with locally grown vegetables, fruits and wine like the recipe here which features Ontario Baco Noir wine and grilled fresh local peaches with flank steak. Look for opportunities to include products from your local area farms to accompany Canadian beef on your menu.

“As a proud Canadian Chef, I demand Canadian and local ingredients in all my cooking. My reputation as a chef is only as good as the last meal I make. Using Canadian beef only makes this task easier. I believe its quality is unsurpassed. We have the perfect ‘terroir’ and our skilled and passionate ranchers raise some of the best beef in the world!” says Michael Allemeier, Chef and Faculty member Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.

Canadian beef, among the best the world has to offer, right here at home.

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