Gordon King, Animal Science, University of Guelph

Processor Concerns

Almost all livestock products move through many marketing and processing channels before ever appearing in retail outlets. Meat packing is the term applied to the industrial segment involving slaughter and processing of animals to supply meat and associated by-products for consumption by humans, pets or other animals and for use in the pharmaceutical, leather or many other industries. Eggs travel through grading, sorting and packaging with some going directly to retailers but even more diverted for further processing in other segments of the food industry. Similarly, milk is marketed in a number of different forms, broadly divided into the fluid or manufactured classification. Commodities must also move through the distribution system and into retail outlets before consumers have access. Everyone should benefit if this chain can be made efficient and economical.

Major Concerns

Supply Quantity. Both large and small abattoirs depend on regular supply of animals to meet their processing needs. A major shift occurred in the number of cattle slaughtered in eastern versus western Canada over the past few years. Processors are certainly unwilling to invest the large sums required for modern abattoirs without reasonable assurance of sufficient supply to keep plants operating at near capacity.

Supply Quality - everyone's concern and responsibility.
- Transport stress and injury must be avoided.
- No universal standards for "organic" commodities.

Economics - Some processors desire to compete with US and other foreign suppliers for global markets. To succeed, they must be able to procure commodities at world prices. This sometimes results in friction between processors and supply management groups.
- All processors must maintain reasonable operating costs so are interested in mechanization whenever this is cost-effective.
- The larger abattoirs and other food processors rarely have much loyalty to particular regions or communities. If some other area offers better prospects or incentives, they move.

Specialty markets - These are difficult to satisfy with restricted marketing options such as those promoted by many commodity boards. Most of the marketing agencies with limited monopoly power now allow contracting between individual producers and packers. Thus, packers can specialize on providing carcasses of uniform size or with certain finish.

Dairies in some regions capitalize on selling brands such as "Golden Guernsey" or "Ultra-Rich Jersey" milk but current marketing board restrictions do not encourage this in Canada.

Trade Disputes. - Everyone wishes for more effective and rapid mechanisms for settling disputes that arise continually from agreements such as NAFTA and GATT.

New Opportunities. - Certain processors might like to work closely with specific producers and retailers to develop new products and specialty markets. Unfortunately, because of the existing marketing regulations and bureaucracies, this is difficult to organize.
- The beef and pork industries want increased access to export markets.
- Some dairy producers and processors express interest in developing enhanced export prospects but many other producers want to retain import controls.

Consumer Attitudes. - Processors throughout the more developed world now market to consumers who are better educated and considerably more affluent. These people, while still value conscious, demand quality and safety in the commodities they purchase. Some portion of the people in our present marketplace are willing to pay more for products with real or perceived additional value. Opportunities certainly exist for processors and producers to develop new markets both locally and internationally. The associated risks and expenses, however, are considerable.

Producer Concerns

Consumer Concerns