The day kicked off with a highly anticipated panel discussion on beef demand, featuring guests from Tim Hortons, Sysco foods, and last but certainly not least, Mo Jessa, president of Earls Restaurants. Jessa opened the discussion with an obviously heartfelt apology for what he called disrespecting the beef producers of Canada. There were excellent points from all panelists but most focused on one key message: Canadian retailers are very keen to work with the beef industry, BUT they will aways put consumer demands first because they have to to stay in business. As Sam Heath of Tim Hortons pointed out, Canadian beef is a great brand but you can't stand in the way of what consumers demand. See our Twitter account for details.
Dickinson spoke of coming to Canada from South Africa as a small child and trying to adapt to life in cold Canada with very little money. She said she learned the value of listening without talking at a young age as her parents fought and eventually divorced. Later, at age 30, she was an impoverished recently-divorced 30-year-old mother of four who had to find a job fast. Believing she had no job skills, she nevertheless managed to be hired for a sales job, then later was hired by Venture Communications, a company she would later own. After years of hard work and building a business empire, she landed a job on Dragons Den, despite knowing nothing about television, after engaging in a lively argument with O'Leary during an audition. The rest is history. See our Twitter account for details.
Afternoon discussions focused on productivity and connectivity. A quartet of Canadian producers - Leighton Kolk, Matthew Heleniak, Darren Bevans and Kevin Blair - discussed their operations and how they are increasing productivity to meet the 15% goal set by the National Beef Strategy. Each had a number of examples of increasing efficiency via best practices an technology. See our Twitter account for details.
Connectivity, another pillar of the national strategy, was covered by Dr. Tim McAllister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. McAllister discussed how the beef industry must adapt and evolve to meet the coming challenges of production, consumer demand, technology adoption and making sure that information continues to flow through the industry. See our Twitter account for details.
Monsanto's Trish Jordan took the stage next to encourage producers to tell their stories and offer some suggestions on how best to do it. Jordan stressed that listening is more important than talking when it comes to discussing food production with those looking for answers. That theme was the perfect lead in to the final panel discussion on building public confidence. Saskatchewan's own Adrienne Ivey joined Andrew Campbell, a dairy farmer and social media expert from Ontario, and Daren Williams, executive director of communications for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association in the U.S. Discussion centred on how to be an advocate for the beef industry via social media and face-to-face interactions. The main point: EVERYONE can tell their story and show support for the beef industry. See our Twitter account for details.
Watch for more updates tomorrow and follow us on Twitter for live tweets from the conference! For more coverage, search the hashtag #CBIC2016