Eat, drink and everyone’s merry

TORONTO — A glass of wine served with a savoury steak at a high class resort has turned into a winning partnership.

Karisma Resorts, Air Canada Vacations, Jackson Family Wines and Canada Beef have worked together for the last year to create special vacation experiences.

Karisma Resorts, which owns all-inclusive properties in Mexico, Latin America and Europe, works with the other companies to offer week long culinary experiences to guests. They can sample fine wines, eat Canadian beef, learn from chefs and become more sophisticated epicureans.

Canada Beef Inc. considers this alliance as a huge coup, especially when the California based winery came on board. The publicity generated was worth its weight in gold.

“The exposure with Jackson is huge,” said Chuck McLean, past-chair of Canada Beef.

There was no problem getting Canadian beef into Mexico, where restrictions continue because of BSE.

“Having enough supply was the problem. We actually ran out in the middle of it all,” McLean told the Canada Beef forum held in Toronto Sept. 18.

The partners hope to build brand loyalty among customers so they will continue to stay at the resorts and buy beef and wine.

“It is all about marketing and getting the word out there,” said Jereon Hanlo, food and beverage vice-president for Karisma, which entertains 350,000 guests a year at 21 properties.

Jackson Wines considered it a fresh opportunity to promote its portfolio of 500 wines.

“Our basis is luxury and quality. It is the No. 1 attribute that our company believes in,” said Gayle Bartscherer, vice-president of international marketing. “You want to impress the heck out of them so they will keep coming back.”

The Jackson company was persuaded to join partly because Canada Beef and Karisma Resorts shared a similar philosophy about promoting quality.

“You want a company that is relatable to your industry but not in your industry. Both partners have to get something out of it,” she said.

The culinary package pairs different cabernets with a variety of beef products, as well as locally grown food to round out the week long event.

Canada Beef is also working with other companies to further build the brand.

Reinhart Food Service, the fourth largest food distribution chain in the United States, has added Canadian beef to its product line using the brand name Eagle Ridge.

Reinhart has 31 food distribution outlets east of the Mississippi River, and in 2013 the company exceeded $6.5 billion in sales with plans to expand. It is owned by Chicago based Reyes Holdings, one of the largest privately held food and beverage distributors in the U.S. with annual sales of $23 billion.

Reinhart distributes food to restaurants, health-care institutions, schools, universities and the military, said John Dvorak, corporate manager of meat marketing.

“We service the full spectrum of food service,” he said.

The company was attracted to Canadian beef because it promotes a high quality and humane treatment of livestock and honest business dealings. It also educates chefs and other meat buyers because food knowledge is often lost when distribution becomes such a major industry. Those preparing the food do not know where it comes from or how to prepare it properly.

The company is working with Canada Beef to introduce marketing information and training in the hopes that meat buyers will develop brand loyalty.

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