Thursday, June 26, 2014

My summer so far at Angus Central

Keltey’s Summer Thus Far

It’s hard to believe I am already close to half way finished my internship at Angus Central, time really has flown by!

Among the many things I have been doing here at the office, I had the privilege to attend Carcass 101 at Olds College last week. The event was hosted by the Canadian Angus Association, in conjunction with Certified Angus Beef and supported by Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency.

Participants spent two days learning about the beef carcass, grading beef, industry trends, and how to raise quality carcasses. We enjoyed a variety of sessions from industry specialists, including evaluating live cattle, lessons in the meat lab, and classroom presentations. My favourite part was judging three live steers at the beginning of the first day, and being able to see and grade their carcasses at the end of the second day. It was an incredibly informative event and I am excited about my new knowledge of the beef carcass.

To learn more about Carcass 101, check out the press release at

Following Carcass 101, I am preparing to work in the Cattle Trail at the Calgary Stampede. There, you can find the Canadian Angus interns- Katie, Sophie, and me teaching the public about the beef industry from pasture to plate. Come find us in the new Agrium Building!

See you at Stampede!

Posted by Karla Ness Feedback:

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

ALMA Future Fare report by Matt Bates

Future Fare is an annual event put on by the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA). ALMA’s purpose is to be a catalyst in the development of a profitable and internationally competitive Alberta livestock and meat industry. Future Fare was a gathering of producers, processors, retailers, consumers and academia, where industry partners showcased their research, technology and best-practices to highlight their passion and forward thinking within the industry. Here are a few highlights from the conference.

Cameron Bruett was one of two keynote speakers for the day. In addition to being the Head of Corporate Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer at JBS, he is also the president of the Global Round Table for Sustainable Beef (GRSB). His talk was focussed on sustainability in the livestock sector. He started by saying that one of the greatest difficulties surrounding sustainability was coming up with a common definition. It’s like the new “buzz word” and everyone has a different perception of what sustainable agriculture entails. He said that consumers have an idealistic view of sustainability. They picture a small farm with a few black and white cows in the field, rail fences and a barn.  He went on to say that sustainability in his eyes should mean producing more with less. He challenged organic and grass fed livestock operations that call themselves “sustainable” since really they are producing less product with more resources. Cameron says modern agriculture has an amazing story to tell, and we just don’t tell it enough.

The average household income is currently increasing, and Cameron believes that as this occurs, the first thing consumers will increase expenditures on is diet. They will increase the amount of high quality protein in their diet, which is good news for the livestock sector. He also challenged McDonalds who say they will have 100% “verified sustainable beef” beginning in 2016. He posed the question: “Aren’t they already doing that?” Going forward, Cameron believes sustainability will be a balance between social, environmental and economic responsibility.

Next, Cameron drew attention to technology. He said consumers love technological advances to their Iphone, Ipad, laptops and tvs, yet they are afraid of any kind of technological breakthroughs related to food production. He posed the question, “How do we meet the challenges of tomorrow if technology is not an option?” He says that all beef systems can be sustainable, but we have to have continuous improvement, and we must convey this sustainable message to consumers. He said consumers want to have choice in the beef products they buy (ex. natural, organic, grass fed), but we need to give them options without telling them lies. We need to stop saying organic meat products are safer than conventionally raised beef. He says the reality is, if it’s in the grocery store, IT’S SAFE. It wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t. He finished by saying that we are very lucky to be in the livestock business because people love our product! We just need to give them the license to continue to love it! Consumers have lost trust in the industry, but this can be rectified. His group, the GRSB, has globally defined sustainability as “planet, people, animals, and progress.” Going forward, their group will focus on the global scope of sustainability while centering on regional empowerment!

Rich Vesta spoke about the new Harmony Beef processing plant that will be opening in Rocky View County, Alberta in November. This facility (formerly Ranchers Choice) is undergoing 18 million dollars worth of renovations and upgrades. They are installing a European water recycling technology that will take their overall water usage from over 500,000 gallons per day down to around 20,000 gallons per day. Part of the renovations includes an entirely new refrigeration system throughout. Once at full capacity, the facility will process about 800 head per day. Rich went on to say that Harmony Beef will be, “large enough to be meaningful, but small enough to be flexible.” He envisions the facility being number one in the business for overall worker safety, food safety, and animal health. He says we need the passion of a packer to tell the story of Canadian Beef, and he thinks Harmony Beef will fulfill that role!

The second and final keynote speaker of the conference was Mario Pilozzi, the former president and CEO of Wal-Mart Canada. Mario has extensive experience in the retail business. His talk surrounded what he feels are the three things that all successful businesses have in common. They are as follows:

·         A strategy with a clear point of differentiation (POD) that is relevant and meaningful to the target customer. Mario said that if you don’t differentiate yourself, you may have some success when the industry and economy are strong, but whenever they decline; your business will have trouble succeeding. “Without a point of differentiation, your company will just ride the tides,” said Mario, “You need to have something that makes you special.” He gave a few examples of successful companies that have a point of differentiation:

o   Costco – Their POD is Quality and value! He reiterated that Costco doesn’t sell cheap products, but they have value. He polled the audience, “how many times have you gone out of Costco and spent less than $100?”

o   H&M – Their POD is today’s fashion at an affordable price!

o   Apple – Their POD is unique solutions

o   Wal-Mart – Their POD is low price and one stop shopping! Mario explained that Wal-Mart has started retailing groceries as a “draw card”. People shop for general merchandise one or two times a month but they shop for groceries once or twice a week. The food gets the foot traffic in the door so people will spend money on the general merchandise which has higher margins!

·         The second trait that a successful company has is a culture that is aligned with the values and beliefs of the business. The culture must support the company’s mission and vision. Mario said that if your company’s point of differentiation is low prices, then your culture and operations should reflect that. This means cutting unnecessary business costs such as staff travel. He said his employees always shared a room when travelling for business, and he would do the same. He said you can’t make your staff share a room and then get the CEO a private suite. One time, Mario said he was offered a free upgrade to a first class flight, and he declined it because he had other staff members on board and it would give them the wrong impression. Mario says, “Everyone in the business has to live the culture.” He further said that you need to put culture at the forefront of your business. You need to be talking about it all the time, since in larger companies you will always have staff turnover.

·         The third trait of a successful business is investment in people! Mario says people are important. You need to train your staff to live the culture by motivating, recognizing and inspiring them! Invest in classes on leadership, sustainability and negotiation and hire third parties for mentorship. “Everyone needs a mentor,” said Mario. If a good staff member wants to grow with the company and needs an MBA, Mario believes the company should facilitate that. He said that you should allow people to grow at their own speed. “The more they want, the more you give them.”

Mario finished by saying that a company needs to always be innovating and improving or they will get behind their competition. No staff meeting should go by without speaking about the culture of the business, and giving recognition to deserving staff.

Posted by Matt Bates Feedback: