New certified premium P.E.I. beef brand launched

Jim Day
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Increased sales and premium prices to cattle producers predicted

Brian Morrison, co-chair of the P.E.I. Cattle Producers, displays some of the tasty beef creations served following the launch Tuesday in Charlottetown of a new certified premium P.E.I. beef brand.

A new certified brand of Island beef is being billed as a game changer for a P.E.I. industry long looking to reverse poor fortune.

Chef Austin Clement, chair of the P.E.I. Culinary Alliance, predicts the new brand launched Tuesday will increase sales of local beef and return premium prices to cattle producers.

Prince Edward Island Certified Beef will provide a premium to farmers, reflecting the extra care and attention that goes into raising each animal.

Several factors are heralded in producing the certified beef characterized by its unique marbling, texture and colour, including the beef cattle being raised on P.E.I. family farms, the animals fed only high-quality grass, grains, potatoes and other vegetables, the meat being federally graded AA or higher as well as third party certified by the Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

The new certified brand is a joint initiative of the P.E.I. Culinary Alliance, P.E.I. Cattle Producers, the Atlantic Beef Products Plant and the departments of Agriculture and Forestry and Innovation and Advanced Learning.

The Culinary Alliance is working with Pearse Dolan of Dolan Foods to distribute the brand to high-end restaurants and specialty shops in central and western Canada.

Dolan told The Guardian that bringing a premium product to market is always a hurdle.

“With a brand like this, what you are going up against is products that are already established out there,’’ he says. “Probably the most prominent would be the certified Angus beef which is a big program out of the United States.”

Still, Dolan describes the P.E.I. premium beef as a unique product with the strongest potential markets lying in big population areas of Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

“When you think about P.E.I. beef,’’ he says, “you’re thinking about the environment: the cattle are growing up in the sea salt air, the iron soil — these are all attributes to a program that make it better and better.’’

“When you think about P.E.I. beef, you’re thinking about the environment: the cattle are growing up in the sea salt air, the iron soil — these are all attributes to a program that make it better and better.’’ Pearse Dolan, Dolan Foods

Brian Morrison, co-chair of the P.E.I. Cattle Producers, hopes all of the approximately 450 cattle producers on Prince Edward Island tap into this initiative.

“It may not be all of their production but it can be a part of their production,’’ he adds.

“I certainly can’t say that it is the silver bullet that is going to save everyone, but we hope that it’s a future for the people that are left. And we certainly...hope that younger producers and new producers will come back on line and see the value in our brand and in our product.

“Taste is what’s going to sell our beef,’’ adds Morrison, “and if we can consistently give them a good-tasting product, we are going to have our market.’’

Morrison, who operates a 500-head feedlot in Summerside with his family, hopes to have all of his production moved into the certified premium beef program within one year.

He acknowledges that the beef industry has had a rough run since BSE (more commonly known as mad cow disease) reared its ugly head in Canada in 2003. Since then, the number of cattle producers in P.E.I. has been sliced in half.

“It’s been a struggle for everyone: lower prices (for beef), high commodity prices for feed,’’ he says. “So the beef industry has been struggling.’’

While the new certified P.E.I. beef brand is not the only initiative moving forward, Morrison describes the program as the “top-end initiative.’’

He adds that the Atlantic Beef Products Plant, which has experienced much more financial hardship than success since opening in Albany in 2005, has made “huge strides and changes’’ in the past year or so that has helped stabilize the cattle industry in the province.

Organizations: P.E.I. Culinary Alliance, P.E.I. Cattle Producers, Atlantic Beef Products Plant Department of Agriculture and Forestry.The Agriculture and Forestry and Innovation and Advanced Learning.The Culinary Alliance Dolan Foods

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, United States, Montreal Toronto Calgary Vancouver Summerside Canada Albany

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Recent comments

  • Billy
    July 11, 2013 - 07:34

    Local is ok if the food is good . PEI beef is not. TASTES LIKE CARDBOARD OR POTATOES,

  • Mooving Forward
    July 10, 2013 - 19:06

    This would be an opportunity to reward farmers who do treat their animals in agreeable ways to be under this certified label and put pressure on the feedlot corn-feeders to get with the program, but instead it's just more marketing bs. Good luck changing something without changing anything

  • not impressed
    July 10, 2013 - 13:50

    These dumb promos are all anyone seems to think of to bail out dying industries in this province. So the cows lived in PEI and were fed a cocktail of pesticides before they were killed. That's right up there with "It's an Island" or whatever that latest stupid tourism campaign is.

  • proud Islander
    July 10, 2013 - 05:26

    Buy local buy local buy local buy local. When we buy local we are keeping dollars right here at home. We are helping our neighbours, our whole community...and in those in our community spend their dollars locally. Everyone wins. Kudos to P.E.I. Culinary Alliance, P.E.I. Cattle Producers, the Atlantic Beef Products Plant and the departments of Agriculture and Forestry and Innovation and Advanced Learning.

    • intobed
      July 10, 2013 - 13:05

      So where were these "neighbours", otherwise know as farmers, when the HST was being considered? Oh yes, that's right, they were lobbying hard for it to be forced upon us so they could make a little more money, even though it was going to hurt most of their "neighbours". I no longer support our large scale farmers.

  • Where's the beef?
    July 09, 2013 - 20:45

    While i think this idea is great, this all hinges on whether or not this will be regulated properly. We cant have feed lots with cattle im muck up to their stomachs any longer. We need more cattle living on the land and not in the barn! Its not worth doing if its not done right!

  • Here we go again
    July 09, 2013 - 20:43

    Looks like the beef industry and Atlantic Beef Products plant are in need of cash flow again, we haven't heard a thing for 6 -12 months and now an old ideal has come to the market, looks like our money in going in the plant to cover more losses. Lets go PEI Government or should it be LET GO and let them survive on their own.