November 2015

Industry Investments

Alberta’s Pork Processors Gaining Traction in Global Markets

Shoji Nomura (l), Director of CPI Japan Office; Michael Young (r), CPI VP, Technical Programs & Marketing Services

Alberta's federal pork packing plants have a track record of success in translating market activities into sales. Alberta holds just 11 per cent of the total hogs and slaughter volume in Canada but accounts for 27 per cent of the Canadian pork exports to Japan – currently the highest value market. From 2012-2014, Alberta pork processors increased their export volume by 42 per cent. A new program administered by Canada Pork International (CPI), and supported by the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA) , aims to position Alberta’s federal plants for continued success.

The Alberta Pork Export Market Development Program (APEMDP) allows Alberta-based pork processing plants to access additional funds to grow their international efforts. The APEMDP also helps offset the costs of marketing Canadian pork into Japan, China, South Korea, the European Union and Mexico. One of the main goals of the project is to help diversify the markets for high-quality Canadian pork.

According to Michael Young, CPI’s Vice President of Technical Programs and Marketing Services, international trade is a long-term commitment.

“There is an upfront cost to international development because a company often has to invest for months and even years before they see sales. And by invest I mean time and money. You can’t just show up in a market and expect contracts to follow. There is a process through which you and your customers grow to trust each other – and that process is a little different in each market.”

Young hopes the APEMDP will open up some export doors for more Alberta packers.

“The payoff of international development can be seen in the premiums that companies are getting from markets like Japan and China. Now we have a way to help offset that upfront cost, so that eventual payoff becomes even more attractive for Alberta’s federal pork plants.”

Michelle Normand, ALMA’s Senior Manager of Industry and Market Development, sees the APEMDP providing benefits beyond market development.

“One of the benefits of this program is that it makes Alberta an attractive business environment for these federal packing plants. We want them here, helping our industry grow, and they want to be here to grow their international presence.”

In addition to targeting markets, over the next three years the APEMDP will help support incoming missions to Alberta from these priority markets; outgoing missions to expand sales volume, introduce new specifications or product lines; retail sampling programs; branded promotions; and competitive benchmarking.

Trevor Sears, Maple Leaf Foods’ Director of Sales and Marketing, is thankful for the program.

“We are always looking to increase our exposure to the premium markets, particularly in Asia. With this cost sharing, you can increase the frequency that you go to see new customers and reconnect with existing ones,” he said. “A phone call is great, and we still do that, but it is hard to overstate how important face-to-face meetings are and how much more you understand about a market when you actually go there.”

Gordon Cove, ALMA’s President and CEO, said, “The APEMDP helps Alberta’s packers to continue pushing into global market, and they are gaining traction. It also helps the industry as the international demand encourages more pork production in our province and across Canada.”

For more information on this project, go to