New initiative launched to expand markets for Ontario meat and poultry processors
Meat & Poultry Ontario (MPO) (formerly Ontario Independent Meat Processors) has launched a new initiative to strengthen their industry and put the association on a path towards long-term sustainability.
Ontario meat and poultry processors have great opportunities to expand their markets but are bogged down with issues that are stifling their growth, such as access to labour. With the support of funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, MPO is identifying those issues and exploring new products and services it can offer its members to make Ontario’s independent meat processing industry stronger.
“Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership we are supporting the sector in finding new ways to respond to current challenges and emerging issues, and to seize new market opportunities," said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
“Our government is committed to removing barriers for our agri-food sector to grow and be more competitive,” said Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, we’re pleased to be supporting industry efforts like this to help meat and poultry processors thrive.”
“Labour is an example of a major growth barrier for our members and their ability to expand market access,” says MPO Executive Director Franco Naccarato. “The programs and services we are hoping to develop through this project will not only help our members deal with some of their challenges at a business level, but are also part of our long-term sustainability strategy as an association.”
The three-part project is starting with an industry overview to identify best practices around programs and partnerships from other jurisdictions and other sectors, followed by eight regional workshops and one-on-one interviews with members. MPO will also be developing a new brand strategy to refresh and modernize the association as part of efforts to attract new workers, especially younger people, into the sector.
A specialty project focused on tools and resources the association can provide to increase member access to markets will start provincially with wholesale opportunities into food service and retail via a food service broker. A second specialty project will tackle services MPO can offer to help members with their labour challenges, such as finding the right people to work in a sector that had 2,400 vacant positions in 2017.
“We are hoping we will come away with several actionable ideas for things we can do to add value to the membership and generate additional income for the association,” he says. “I think our efforts will also serve as a demonstration of how not-for-profit associations can think outside the box in terms of sustainable funding.“
It’s a project that wouldn’t be possible without funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, he added, and as a result, MPO has also been able to leverage additional in-kind resources from other agri-food sector participants.
This project was funded in part through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of the Partnership in Ontario.