A&W meets with stock growers

Restaurant chain could provide larger market for Canadian producers

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — An A&W spokesperson says the company hopes to one day buy all its beef from Canadian producers.


But right now it can’t source all its requirements in Canada and still meet its promise to consumers of beef without added hormones or steroids.


Trish Sahlstrom, vice-president of purchasing and distribution, told the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association convention here June 9 that the company has been watching trends since the 1970s and responded to the growing interest by consumers in where their beef comes from.


“We are a beef business. We’re beef-centric. We want to keep selling hamburgers,” Sahlstrom said.


The company buys some Canadian beef from companies like Spring Creek to meet the specifications, but has gone to the United States and Australia for most of its supply. Sahlstrom couldn’t say exactly how much is bought in Canada or the other countries.


She said A&W pays a premium but is also selling more beef and that is a good thing for the whole industry. Canadian ranchers who supply to the chain have been reluctant to go public with that, she added.


“I believe we will be able to return to Canadian beef for all of our burgers,” Sahlstrom said.


Rancher Lynn Grant, from Val Marie, asked why the restaurant chain used the terms it did in its advertising campaign, particularly that beef without added hormones tastes better and that the beef is steroid-free. He noted that cow-calf producers don’t use steroids.


Sahlstrom said consumers told A&W that’s what they wanted and they want to meet consumer demand.


“Be careful using customer terms when they don’t fully understand them,” Grant said.


Sahlstrom said it isn’t the company’s job to educate consumers. She also said that customers tell them the beef they are using now does in fact taste better.