Second Look

Second Look: Why don’t we brand Canadian pork?

Many challenges would face a Canadian branding campaign, including getting a commitment by the entire value chain. But why not keep value-added production and processing in Canada?


During a recent conversation about the U.S. mandatory country-of-origin labelling (MCOOL), a colleague suggested that it was a marketing program. I immediately suggested that MCOOL is not an industry marketing program designed to build market share, but rather a consumer labelling program put in place through legislation.

That conversation got me thinking that an aggressive branding campaign for Canadian pork aimed at American consumers might be an appropriate response to the legislation.

Second Look: Ontario pork processing: Can we compete?

What is the future for Maple leaf’s Burlington processing plant? Will there be a buyer or will it shut down? And if it survives what will be its business model?


Many Ontario producers would argue today that the biggest challenge facing the pork industry is a competitive processing sector. This issue has really come to the fore with the proposed sale of the Burlington processing plant by Maple Leaf Foods, which slaughters close to 45 per cent of Ontario’s weekly hog sales.

Second Look: Food recalls: How should the industry respond?

It seems that each week the media reports yet another food recall – grapes, bean sprouts, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese, luncheon meat. Is this rise in the number of recalls and scares making consumers more aware or contributing to their apathy?

In 2007, Razor Public Relations in the United Kingdom conducted a consumer survey after a series of high-profile brand incidents rocked the U.K. food industry. The survey found that about 67 per cent of shoppers said they are hardly aware of national product alerts and only 17 per cent trust a manufacturer or retailer to give them accurate information on the scare or recall.

Second Look: It’s just the way it is

Many things in life and in business just happen and
there’s not much we can do about them. So don’t sweat it


Every parent remembers the “why” questions from their young children. Why is the sky blue? Why is the neighbour’s tractor bigger? Why do pigs have that smell? If the world is round, how come people don’t fall off the bottom?

The parental answer is often, ‘Because it’s just the way it is.” Then these young children become educated and even study agricultural science, so that they can determine their own answers. Their biggest education is one of experience and they go on to challenge the impossible.

Second Look: Does history keep repeating itself?

Many of the latest management concepts are nothing new. But, this time around, they are backed by current science and technology


A great mentor of mine, Dr Gordon Bowman, used to say that “every producer should take a lesson in history, so as not to repeat the errors of his forefathers.”

If we look through the past trends in pig production, we can see how true his statement is. We have experienced more change in the pig industry in the last 10 years than the previous 50. But, upon closer analysis, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

Second Look: When producers stop three feet from the gold

Getting expert advice and planning a strategy can help you avoid making bad decisions when times get tough


Napoleon Hill, in his book “Think and Grow Rich,” recalls the following story that would be so appropriate to the pig industry:

An uncle of R.U. Darby was caught by the “gold fever” in the gold-rush days and went to Colorado to dig and grow rich. He had never heard that more gold has been mined from the brains of men than has ever been taken from the Earth. He staked a claim and went to work with pick and shovel.

Second Look: To be or not to be in the hog business?

In this time of industry soul-searching, pork producers need to get rid of some misconceptions and do some serious evaluation of their strengths and weaknesses before deciding whether to stay in the business


To be or not to be, that is the question;
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

The phrase “to be, or not to be” comes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act III, Scene I, and it is often used in reference to the whole speech. It is arguably one of the most famous quotes in world literature and it can readily be applied to pig farming. Do I continue producing pigs or is there life after pig farming?