Maritime producers received a shot in the arm recently with the announcement that after 18 months of negotiations Sobeys is now offering Island View beef as its “primary” beef brand in the 13 stores it supplies across Prince Edward Island.
P.E.I.’s lone Atlantic Beef Products plant is ramping up its slaughter and processing capacity in response to meet the new commitment.
Sobeys general manager Peter Doucette says the agreement gives ABP a committed local partner so it can increase its plant capacity and in turn encourage P.E.I. and Maritime beef producers to increase their herds.
About 80 per cent of the beef selection in the 13 stores is now supplied by the ABP’s Island View and Certified Island Beef brands.
The announcement follows months of negotiations with ABP and Atlantic cattle producer associations, to make sure ABP’s plant capacity and cattle herds in the region could be expanded to meet the added demand.
The federally inspected ABP plant at Albany, northeast of Borden, now has the capacity to supply the P.E.I. stores on top of its other existing business, the packer said.
ABP is also looking for more supply from beef producers, to further expand its space in both domestic and export markets. “We hope local producers can ramp up production of beef cattle by at least 10,000 head per year in total,” the company said.
The ABP plant, which was built in partnership with local producers, sources beef from producers in P.E.I., New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and is the only federally inspected cattle slaughter plant in Atlantic Canada.
The plant, however, booked annual losses for years after its opening in late 2004 and the P.E.I. government has committed regular funding to ABP since 2009, following a 2007 cash infusion from the federal, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and P.E.I. governments.
Since then, the plant has set up a ground beef production line and rolled out its branded beef lines such as Island View, Certified Island Beef and Blue Dot Reserve.