Atlantic Beef Products

Atlantic Beef Products turns over new leaf

The meat and dairy industries have experienced a palatable shift in consumer spending; customers are more educated on where their meats are coming from, how they have been treated and whether or not they have been pumped full or hormones. They want to know that the food they are buying and eating is safe, that the animals had been treated in an ethical and humane fashion, and they would preferably have the foods to be local.

Atlantic Beef Products has listened to what its customers want: local, ethical, quality beef, and have redesigned their business model to make sure they deliver just that. By going back to the basics of buying local and taking the proper steps and time to deliver a meat that makes sense, Atlantic Beef Products provide products that make sense economically, and for their communities.

Atlantic Beef Products has been in operation in their current facility in Prince Edward Island since 2002, with a Board of Directors made up primarily of cattle producers and individuals with experience in the meat industry whose collective aim it is to develop and maintain a sustainable meat industry.

Back to basics

The capacity of the plant is a tangible measure of the company’s prioritization of quality over quantity. As opposed to processing facilities in other parts of the country that can handle in the neighbourhood of 3000 heads of cattle a day, the Atlantic Beef Products plant is designed to handle 500 to 600 head of cattle per week.

Mike Nabuurs, Vice-President of Product Development at Atlantic Beef Products, recently joined the company, bringing with him his experience accrued as Executive Director of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture. “To be able to make it work on the commodity market, I think you do business based on volume. If you can squeeze out a small margin on a huge volume, you’re able to be somewhat successful. We’ve since changed the business model in that instead of competing in that commodity beef market, we are forging into the value added, high quality, and high-end product that our customers are demanding. Because of the way the food market is changing, in wanting to support locally, we feel we are pretty well positioned to take advantage of that over time.”

Surf, yes. But turf? Yes!

Atlantic Beef Products is readily recognizable to consumers in Atlantic Canada, who will soon be seeing the company offering up grounded meats. This isn’t the big business that has come to dominate grocery stores. This is local beef raised by local farmers.

“We are unique in the Maritime Provinces because of the way the animals are raised, primarily because beef is produced in a much smaller scale compared to Western provinces,” says Nabuurs. “Our smaller size can be an advantage in that we know our producers personally and we know where our product is coming from. By supporting Atlantic Beef Products, our customers are responding to the importance of supporting local businesses and local economy, local farmers and job creation. Those are all really tangible.”

The quality and taste of the meat is distinctive and unique as well, and Atlantic Beef Products is leading the charge in Atlantic Canada’s reputation being for meats as it is for seafood—making it the ultimate ‘Surf-n-Turf’ location.

“That’s definitely something we’ve talked about. [The American talk show] Regis & Kelly was here and it brought plenty of exposure to P.E.I. The Maritimes is known for its seafood, but we really think we’re in a spot where we can compete for the best beef in the world along with the seafood,” says Nabuurs.
 “Also, the diets the animals receive here in the Maritimes are a little different, which gives it a better flavour. They tend to be raised on more grass and more forage, and grain, like wheat, barley and oats, rather than corn. We’re getting some really positive feedback on the quality of the production that is coming out of our plant,” he continues.

In terms of local employment, Atlantic Beef Products currently employs upwards of 50 to 60 people here at the plant, with 50 to 75 regular producing farmers and have recently developed a relationship with a local steakhouse in Charlottetown, Sims.

“We developed a product that we are providing to them, which is getting a lot of positive feedback. The chef there has worked with beef from around the world and he says he has never seen beef with such high flavour,” says Nabuurs.

“We are proud that the product we have here is second-to-none,” he says. Equally important to the company is the knowledge that consumers can pair buying Atlantic Beef Products with important factors that buying local beef brings, including supporting local economies, having a lower environmental impact and building a sense of community.