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"Massive middle-class growth in China will continue to drive food demand"
“Every year the equivalent of a Canadian population [30 million] joins the middle class in China and when you look at … how much consumers on average in China would be spending on food, they are purchasing as much as 40 cents per additional dollar of income,” Mr. Gervais says. According to consulting firm McKinsey & Co., foreign-branded food and beverages are favoured by 34 per cent of China’s upper-middle-class urbanites.
The federal government has implemented Canada Brand/La marque Canada, which has a maple leaf graphic and the tagline “Quality is in our nature” to help agribusinesses get recognition in global markets. But it is not a requirement for all growers and producers and it is unclear how many food exporters use it instead of their own in-house marketing.
So should more Canadian food exporters adopt a national branding strategy so they get noticed on China’s grocery shelves?
“If you ask me it is a good idea,” Mr. Gervais says. “I totally get some businesses may want to brand themselves differently than having to be under an umbrella, but I really do see the value because there is a lot of capital in that Canada brand right now … especially with the growth that’s coming in the marketplace over the next 10 years from Asia-Pacific.”
"A big challenge indeed"
The challenge of developing a popular national brand strategy lies in the fact that Canada’s food products are diverse – everything from apples, to meat to dairy and grain. On top of that, the country’s growers range in size from small family-run growers to massive agribusinesses.
“What we would have to do is create an umbrella strategy that is flexible enough that it can be used regardless of the organization that is part of it,” says John Miziolek, president and co-founder of Oakville, Ont.-based Reset Branding, “because there’s no way you could create one singular brand and hope that it would fit everybody’s needs.”
The solution could be creating smaller brands for each of those diverse products and then to develop an umbrella strategy to encompass the smaller classes, he explains. But he emphasizes that making it mandatory would be the strategy’s death knell.
“Just from a branding and marketing perspective that’s a horrible way to start a brand,” says Mr. Miziolek, “forcing people to comply with rules that they’re not very excited about.”
With the caveat that it would have to be managed well to actually succeed, he says increased recognition in the global food market could lead to more stable and solid revenue for the companies that enroll in a national branding program.
“If done correctly, and all of the organizations and producers were managed properly, we could establish ourselves in the global market place as a high-quality exporter of various types of food products,” says Mr. Miziolek.
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