Selling Beef To A&W is Not Betrayal

Since A&W launched its raised without hormones campaign, many farmers and ranchers have expressed displeasure about the marketing tactics of A&W. The most popular post in the the life of RealAgriculture is Andrew Campbell’s column entitled I’m Done With Fearing Food and Done with A&W.

The anger has extended to the ranchers and feedyards participating in the program. A cloud of betrayal cloaks them as they anonymously go about their business.

Is that fair? I don’t think so at all, not in the least.

I have friends in the program. They love agriculture as much as you or I. So why the hard feelings from the rest of the agriculture brethren?

According to their most recent financial reports, the following three points have been achieved by the A&W Revenue Royalties Income Fund.

  • Same store sales growth up 7.6% for the year
  • Two year stacked same store sales growth +13.9%
  • Royalty Pool sales surpassed $1 Billion

So if A&W is expanding the raised without hormones beef market, and that’s providing opportunity for a small group of volunteers willing to participate, what is the problem?

A&W has been clear that they are importing hormone free beef from outside Canada and the United States. Many people are upset with this fact.

“But I want to support Canadian farmers and ranchers, not Australian beef.”

RELATED STORIES: A&W’s Trish Sahlstrom discusses the marketing campaign

Instead of getting too upset, remember that there are Canadian producers participating in the program. Industry speculation is that between 5-20% of A&W beef is currently sourced in Canada. A&W has stated repeatedly that they will not discuss percentages. What if, In five years, they offer 100% Canadian beef? Will you still be upset?

The commercials frustrate me too, but producers participating in the program have nothing to do with A&W’s advertising choices.

At beef meetings across the country we routinely talk of expanding markets and meeting the needs of the customer.  Maybe there are more opportunities in front of us that we refuse to access because we are too caught up in the norm.

Producers who are selling to A&W are not betraying the industry, they are marketing their beef based on an opportunity as presented. Isn’t this what a free market is all about?

 

Shaun Haney

Shaun grew up on a family seed farm in Southern Alberta. Haney Farms produces, conditions and retails wheat, barley, canola and corn seed. Shaun Haney is the founder of RealAgriculture.com. @shaunhaney

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11 Comments

Annemarie

I think we need to watch our language. There is no such thing as hormone-free beef. Beef raised with no added hormones is the correct terminology. Sorry to be picky but we need to stay consistent as consumers are already confused.

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Brett Coughlin

Marketing by fear tactics is not something that I want to support. I would like to know how many people have turned away from meat in the grocery stores by fear of the A&W commercials. Making multiple industries Change for there revenue, I won’t be a part of. Where does it end?

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Roy Eckert

For years we have been encouraged to move all conversation to a science based approach. The use of both implants and any drugs for treatment or health are monitored and approved by the vets the producer has access to. The campaign has effectively undermined all the work done to highlight the responsible use both of these products. While I agree its a free market and my choices to sell need to remain “free”, the opposition to the choice, I suspect, is much more global. Its supporting a marketing strategy that undermines an industry wide philosophy, that science should trump feelings/perceptions.

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Ham

Sorry, nope. It should still be labeled. If customers want naturally raised beef, let them decide.

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Chuck

Have always wondered if A&W product especially on imported product can stand an Audit. As BCRC will tell you all Canadian product is antibiotic free because of with drawl protocol. How ever that doesn’t mean at some point antibiotics for health had not been used. A&W uses Steroid and Hormone inter changably which seems very confusing.

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Darin Wobick

Seeing as this issue will not go away, nor does it seem to be moving forward either, I will chime in. First off, now ag avocates and leaders are saying that consumers don’t want to hear stats and science, as it just muddies the waters. So we are back to portraying beef producers as caretakers of healthy livestock. How many months ago was there an outcry to change the logo of a farm event (I forget exactly what it was, Shaun covered it 😉 ) from an image of a barn to something more “up to date” like a boardroom or a satellite dish ? Wonder why consumers are confused ?Secondly, I eat at A&W because their burgers at this time seem to be the best to eat. I had one of the burgers from the largest chain , you know the one that the cowboys from Calgary were promoting. It was crap, plain and simple. Why does the red meat industry in Canada have such a hard time realizing that it has to please the end user? Then when someone tries, they get beat up over it.

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Viren D'souza

I don’t have any personal issue with anyone raising beef for the program. I do have an issue with the way A&W went about the whole campaign, the message changed from no-hormone to no-added-hormones pretty fast. They basically said “We’re just producing what consumers want” and to me, that says that they don’t really care about the science behind farming or what producers do to produce a product, they just want to feed a demand, regardless of how outrageous it is. It also strikes me as a bit disingenuous when they say “we have a role to play in education” but don’t bother telling anyone that all beef has hormones and no antibiotics or the role antibiotics play.

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Ham

So basically you’re saying that since AG scientists deem added hormones, etc., to be safe.. this trumps consumer’s rights to choose? When they first came out to say no hormones, the change happened because obviously there are natural hormones, but the issue people have is with, “added hormones”. Simple clarification. Pretty sure people know the role of ANTIBIOTICS. Animals should not be getting sick in the first place. That itself is a sign that the current “farming” method needs to change. Animals getting sick in the first place.

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Wayne

I have a problem with the word SCIENCE. To me it depends on who is doing the work and the outcome that you want. I hate the fact that BIG AG is pushing farmers to be their front people, I would rather like to see the BIG AG companies out front proving without a shadow of a doubt that all of their products are safe! Why have Ag Canada Scientist being muzzled or fired for bringing forward possible problems with the products we use. Why are farmers being the scapegoats here?

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