BIC Partners Program provides help and support

BIC Partners Program provides help and support
by Janet Kanters, BIC Stakeholder Communications Manager - 1, 2009

As an organization, the Beef Information Centre (BIC) strives to maximize demand for Canadian beef and optimize the value of Canadian beef products by strategically partnering with committed and reputable companies and industry partners. During 2007/08, through its Partners Program, BIC partnered with 56 private industry partners in foodservice, retail, processing and in the United States to drive innovative Canadian beef products and programs.

The BIC Partners Program involves an application by the prospective partner, assessment of eligibility, internal scoring based on objective measures, and finally an audit of costs and results. The process ensures all potential partnered activities are scored solely on their merit as they relate to program criteria and the objectives of the approved BIC Business Plan. This ensures producer dollars are invested to ensure the highest return. In most cases, BIC's investment is relatively small as compared to the total cost of the promotional activity.

"The types of initiatives that can be undertaken through the Partners Program are varied and reflect industry needs," says John Baker, BIC's executive director of trade marketing. "All projects are driven by the industry partner, with BIC acting to provide support as needed and as available at any stage during the project."

As per the BIC Committee policy, there are seven criteria that must be met for Partners Program funding:

- Be quality based, or significantly value-added

- Have potential for increasing consumption of Canadian beef

- Have potential for better carcass utilization

- Have potential for profitability

- Provide differentiation in the marketplace

- Be able to overcome any barriers to commercialization

- Organization/company must be capable and committed to the project

Potential partners can include retail stores and grocery chains, restaurant and chain operators, grocery/foodservice distributors, meat packers, branded programs, producer alliances, processors and food manufacturers. Potential projects include new product development/enhancement, process development/enhancement, research projects, point-of-sale promotional tools, sales/cross-promotions/activities, package design, label design/approval, advertising design, training/education seminars and even trade missions to Canada.

BIC has worked with a wide range of industry partners, including companies that specialize in natural and/or organic products, as well as programs that focus on specific regions or cattle breeds. These niche projects can be eligible for Partners Program funding provided they meet the seven criteria and do not make direct claims of superiority versus conventionally raised beef as they relate to quality, safety, healthfulness, etc.

"Under Partners Program guidelines, the policy is to work with all sectors of the beef industry, and to always ensure these programs do not disparage conventional beef," says Baker.

One example of a Partners Program working in sync is BIC's involvement with The Meat Factory (TMF). A client since 2005, BIC has helped TMF better market their line of value-added beef products by assisting them with marketing efforts, including packaging, point-of-sale materials and at tradeshows. In all instances, BIC helps by ensuring the positive messaging around Canadian beef is front and centre.

"BIC's Partners Programs have been instrumental in enabling us to develop award-winning pre-cooked beef products for retail and foodservice industries," says Andrew Thomson, president of TMF. "Not only were we eligible to access funds from BIC for the creation and launch of these new products, the expertise and knowledge BIC shared with us was invaluable."

In 2007/08, 56 BIC Partners Programs leveraged $662,909 of producer check-off investment against private partner investments of $19,137,958 for a total trade investment ratio of 30:1.

"BIC Partners Program is key to the success of Canada's beef industry," notes Mike Cook, an Alberta beef producer and BIC Committee member. "These programs leverage the resources of many partners for the benefit of the industry as a whole."

Projects eligible for reimbursement funding from the Partners Program focus on facilitation, development and marketing of products utilizing Canadian beef in the Canadian and U.S. marketplaces. Partners Program reimbursement funding is available to companies operating as meat processors, distributors, food manufacturers, foodservice chains, wholesalers and retailers.