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Ranchers need strategy to sell bison meat products

Dr. Sylvain Charlebois says making connections will help the bison ranching industry.
Dr. Sylvain Charlebois addresses the participants of the International Bison Convention 2022 on Thursday at TCU Place.

SASKATOON — Renowned expert in food distribution and policy Dr. Sylvain Charlebois is suggesting strategy is what ranchers who raise bison for consumption need to further promote the product.

Charlebois, speaking on the third day of the International Bison Conference 2022 on Thursday at TCU Place, said the industry needs a strategy to connect with consumers who are looking for producers.

“Whether it’s industry-led or regionally-led, or it gets led by your organization, it is entirely up to you whether you’re in northern Saskatchewan or northern Ontario, it doesn’t matter since your market is there,” he said.

“You can connect with people quickly through a website or, well-organized transactional websites,” added Charlebois, who discussed the topic of where bison fits in as the world comes out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He shared a story about how he and his wife were looking to buy a wild boar for their niece when they learned of a farm in Quebec that sell them. It was while they were in Quebec City.

“The only way we knew about the farmer was through the website. We saw the story of the family. We could have it delivered but we actually drove there with the kids so they can see the farm. People are looking at connecting with you in different ways,” said Charlebois.

Charlebois, a professor and senior director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S. said the pandemic had people trying to understand more about where food comes from after the supply chain was disrupted resulting in empty shelves in stores.

“They’re trying to understand the supply chain and how it works. Actually, 51 per cent of [households] now will grow some sort of food at home, which is the highest rate we’ve seen since the end of the Second World War,” said Charlebois.

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