Irony in eating

Irony is a multidimensional word describing the incongruity between what actually happens and what might be expected to happen and this disparity often seems absurd or laughable. It’s fodder for jokes, poems, song and just plain everyday situations that go amuck, showing us this world is not perfect no matter how hard we try to make it so. Before I go further I have to set the stage for a point of irony on the topic of food safety. We all know that the agricultural industry and government officials involved work hard to ensure our daily intake is safe, however, situations happen and sure as the sun rises in the east, we often hear and read [negative] stories ranging from  recalls, to labelling issues, to actual illness. Such stories find their place on the agenda of many media outlets – on a regular basis I would add. The flip side is, seldom is a story reported about how safe and great our food really is when viewed in the larger picture of daily meals served across North America (close to a billion). In this context of daily consumption relative to how many people suffer ill effects, we really are doing a good job feeding the 350 million mouths that live in North America and depend on the food we produce.

A food related story that DIDNOT receive a lot of media attention and one that was ripe (no pun intended) with irony took place about three months ago in Baltimore, Maryland. It was the National Food Safety Summit conference and attending the event were officials from government offices such as the Food and Drug administration, Disease Control Prevention and those in the business of the corporate world, including McDonalds and Tyson to name a couple. It seems that there was a problem with some of the food served because just over a 100 people fell ill to food poisoning. Unfortunate as it was (no deaths or hospitalization), this was the zinger of irony in the context of food safety and humour I would add. Next year’s convention will likely see every dish tested and approved before serving.

Staying with the topic of food and in particular beef, there was some great news found as reported by Robobanks Food and Agribusiness Research team.  Their report stated that China will have to significantly increase their beef imports as their domestic production supply is falling short of demand. So much so, the Robobank report says, imports will increase between 15% and 20% each year for the next five years. It added the ban on Australian fresh and chilled beef has been lifted and that means that China will likely open their doors to Brazilian beef soon and by years end possibly U.S. beef exports will begin to flow. All of which signifies the race is on to meet the demand.

The question that crossed my mind was how much of an impact will this have on our Canadian beef exports to China? The strategy for our China exports is to market our highend branded product (see January 2104 Alberta Beef Magazine, Bullish on beef) to the target market of more affluent customers in China. As said in the article, we are essentially selling the creme de la creme of beef. So the question is, will our Cadillac product be passed by for a Smart Car type product in this explosion of beef imports to China? Money at the end of the day is often the great dictator and given the high demand going forward, will the supply decisions lean towards price over quality?  Basically who can best fill the order and at what price? For sure we’ll reap benefits from this situation and for sure the high road is the best road for us, given we can’t compete on price with other low input cost countries selling beef. It’s going to be a competitive race filling the orders and it remains to be seen how we’ll fare in this situation. It certainly would be ironic if we didn’t see Canada Beef exports increase.  

Until next month

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