Beef lovers are craving a broadening range of product attributes these days; from animal welfare to enhanced nutritional value to environmentally responsible practices, many shoppers are looking beyond plate and pocketbook when they buy.

To help the beef cattle industry identify and capitalize on the variety of consumer expectations, the BC Cattlemen’s Association (BCCA) completed a value chain market analysis and strategy that allows all partners in the supply chain to gain a competitive advantage.

According to BCCA General Manager, Kevin Boon, a shared understanding of these preferences allows partners to more effectively exchange and market information that will help both consumer and industry alike.

“By enabling increasingly conscientious consumers to select beef based on information like management practices or location, a producer can be rewarded in the price for their cattle and all partners in the value chain can benefit from their shared insight into consumer priorities,” explains Boon.

For Prince George rancher Mark Grafton, enhancing transparency is the key to bolstering confidence in BC’s beef industry and ensuring its success.

“We’re trying to listen to consumers and given them the information they want,” emphasizes Grafton. “This has always been very important to our producers, but now the strategy will enable us to adopt a more targeted approach in meeting our customers’ needs.”

To that end, the BCCA is now coordinating the supply chain to identify cattle with attributes prioritized in the market analysis, which will ultimately allow major retailers to create a branded product featuring traits with demonstrated market demand.

Boon and Grafton are thrilled that industry is taking the first steps towards implementing the strategy, and are hopeful a product will be available within the next year. While there is still much to be done, they believe the groundwork laid by the project will help facilitate a revitalized beef and cattle industry in BC.

“A more innovative consumer-focused approach is what the industry needs right now,” says Boon. “This is a long-term strategy for fostering prosperity and growth.”

Funding: $199,925 through the Canada-British Columbia Ranching Task Force Funding Initiative. (RTF003)