A new Centre of Excellence is going to do for beef what Cigi has done for grains and oilseeds, says the president of Canada Beef.
“I’ve always been high on Cigi — the folks there have done a tremendous job of ensuring Canadian grains have strong international recognition,” said Rob Meijer.
Over the last four decades, Cigi (short for the Canadian International Grains Institute) has brought more than 35,000 people from 115 countries — including scores of buyers, millers and bakers, and other key industry players — to its Winnipeg training and educational facility.
Getting buyers, retailers, chefs, and other beef users into the new Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence will provide the same sort of boost for the international profile of Canada’s beef industry, said Meijer.
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“The centre is going to bring the brand to life,” he said. “We need to build a house on our land, invite people to our house, and ensure that when they walk out, they not only know all about Canadian beef but what it can do for them.”
The $3.8-million facility, due to open in Calgary in December, will house a full commercial kitchen, meat case, classroom, and dining facilities, and also have broadcast capabilities. All of those elements will work together, said Meijer.
“We want to ensure they have the best educational experience, industry experience, and dining experience,” he said.
Part of that will mean taking foreign visitors to cow-calf and backgrounding operations, feedlots and processors, he added.
Ottawa is funding the centre.
“Our government is proud to support this cutting-edge facility,” said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. “This centre will give our industry a competitive advantage in showcasing Canada’s top-quality meats and will allow our producers to capitalize on new and existing market opportunities.”