CBEF Winding Down As BIC Takes The Reins

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It s said that a good captain always goes down with his ship, and Ted Haney, president of the Canadian Beef Export Federation (CBEF) is no exception. Haney, who has led CBEF since 1992, is helping with its wind-down as Canada Beef Inc. (CBI) takes over the agency s duties.

CBI will bring the activities of CBEF, the Beef Information Centre and the National Check Off Agency into a single organization.

The basic wind-up process is that the new Canada Beef Inc. must establish itself and get itself ready to do business in each international market. Once it s registered and operating in each market, then Canada Beef Export Federation can withdraw from all markets and then dissolve at home, said Haney.

That process is expected to be completed by the end of the year. South Korea has already been turned over to the CBI, but not all countries are quite as easy.

Each market has different requirements, some more straightforward, some more complicated, he explained. South Korea was very straightforward and the transition has already taken place, Canada Beef Inc. is up and operating and Canada Beef Export Federation has withdrawn.

That same transition must take place in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and Mexico before CBEF can officially be dissolved in Canada.

In each of those countries, there is an office and professionals working to further entrench Canadian beef into each and every market and CBI will work within the existing framework established by CBEF. CBI was formed to administer all of Canada s beef-marketing initiatives, both domestically and abroad. Formerly, the two had been separated into two agencies CBEF, and the Beef Information Centre.

Haney says each office works closely with all levels of the beef chain in the country where they operate, including government, embassies, consulates, processors, distributors, retailers, food service, hotels and restaurants.

These are deeply, deeply engaged offices that have successfully been championing the interests of Canadian beef and veal for many years in these markets and have developed significant presence and significant respect.

CBEF was created in 1989 to address a marketing deficit overseas. Both the U.S. and Australia already had beef-marketing agencies entrenched in Japan a key market at the time and Canada was missing the boat.

The primary market of that day was Japan an absolute booming economy as it turned out a bubble economy but a booming economy with huge increases in beef consumption, a newly opened market and a great deal of wealth was being built in the United States and Australia based on that trade, Haney said.

Until CBEF was formed, provincial governments and their related industry associations were trying to market their own beef to markets abroad, but they were shooting themselves in the foot. Haney said one province would go into selling the merits of their provincial beef, and downplaying the attributes of the other provinces.

And it would always lead to a cannibalization in trade and finally, failure, Haney said.

Early success

In 1990, Canadian exports to Asia and Mexico were at 7,000 tonnes, valued at $24 million. Haney said that for markets that size, this was statistically not much different than zero.

Once a national, united front was formed and its presence became known in Asia, Mexico, the Middle East and Russia, Haney says the offices became so established that they could actually influence policy in those countries.

By 2002, the last full year before BSE was discovered, the same two markets Asia and Mexico had increased to 129,000 tonnes, worth $500 million.

By that point in time, over 10 per cent of our total beef production was going to these markets, Haney said, adding that the benefit was proportionally greater. New markets meant new demand for previously inexpensive beef cuts and products, which were suddenly worth much more.

Then came BSE in May of 2003. Sales plummeted to just $214 million, or 52,000 tonnes. But by 2010, exports had recovered to 94,000 tonnes. Haney believes that without CBEF and its hard work in the years leading up to BSE, Canada s export market would have totally collapsed, and taken decades to recover.

Reflecting on CBEF s contributions to the Canadian cattle industry, its president is proud, citing recent research revealing that for every $1 invested in CBEF, there was a $17 return. Haney says he wishes the best for those charged with the same task under the new CBI banner.

As we re now transitioning to a combined organization that will address domestic promotion as well as exports to the U.S. and all of the markets, we wish them well.

As for Haney s personal future, he s already fielded many inquiries as to potential new professional directions, but he says he s not going to examine any opportunities until the CBEF ship successfully sails off into the sunset.

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