September 24, 2003



Canada's Beef Consumers Hurting Other Meats


Canadian enthusiasm to boost the nation's beef industry after a fallout when a case of mad cow disease was found may inadvertently have hurt other meat producers, say a researcher at the Alberta Bison Centre.


Linda Sautner pointed out that a greater consumption of meat could only mean a drop in consumption of other meats. The market for bison has seen a steady decline since the first case of BSE was announced, indicating limited market share for Canada's meat producers.


Bison producers initially saw a boost in meat sales following the May 20 announcement that BSE had been detected in an Alberta cow, when consumers were unsure about the safety of Canadian beef.  But low beef prices and renewed confidence in the safety of Canadian beef have convinced even bison eaters to switch to beef, also as a show of support.


Pork producers too are feeling the pain. "We believe we're being injured now," said Ed Schultz, general manager of Alberta Pork. Pork sales which once held steady, have began dipping drastically. 


"BSE is now hurting the pork industry," said Schultz, who has appealed to grocery store managers to feature pork, as well as beef. Consumers are fickle and tend to buy the featured meat. The number of hogs slaughtered have also been cut to curb losses.


Demand for mutton, however, has held steadfast. Bob Petty of Sunterrra Meats in Innisfail, Alta., said the company hasn't seen a decrease in lamb sales because consumers continue to eat lamb for special occasions. He added that Sunterra expects to kill 10,000 more lambs this year than last year.


Lisa Bishop, communications manager with Chicken Farmers of Canada, said chicken consumption hasn't declined since the border closed. Summer is traditionally when most of the chicken is eaten and this year was no different, she said.