The Earls restaurant chain is bringing Canadian beef back to its 27 locations in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Ground beef will come from Ontario-based Baretta Family Farms and other cuts will be sourced through the Alberta companies Spring Creek Ranch and Aspen Ridge Farms.
The turnabout came after outcry about the Canadian company’s decision to offer certified humane beef from the United States. Within day of the announcement earlier this spring, the company agreed to change its policy after meeting with Canadian beef groups who made it clear the industry is not second rate.
The company is still committed to its policy of consciously sourced food but has since learned Canadians can supply some product right away, said spokesperson Cate Simpson.
“We are using the Certified Humane as our standard to work from. We have found in Canada that there are some that are actually even higher standards than the Certified Humane and some that don’t have quite the levels of standards. We are looking for an equivalent that is certified and is audited,” she said.
The company has traditionally procured its beef from a single supplier to guarantee consistency, but it is willing to work with more companies that meet its standards for humanely raised, antibiotic and growth hormone free product.
“Our search for a single supplier with consistency was sort of our downfall because we weren’t able to source from multiple suppliers. We have completely changed our whole purchasing and procurement method when it comes to beef,” she said.
The company has restaurants from Ontario to British Columbia and some outlets in the United States.
The announcement is a good news story, said Rob Meijer of Canada Beef.
There is some certified Canadian beef available and has already made its way to the restaurants. This could provide an incentive for more producers to join a certified program and become suppliers to Earls.
He praised the company’s flexibility and willingness to accept different programs that can meet particular production standards.
“We were able to turn this ship around for all of the right reasons, and this is an outcome that ex-presses itself as the right way for our industry to connect with these organizations and showcase all the best we can do,” he said.
Canadian beef producers do a good job, but they do not brag, so a company like Earls may not have been aware of what was available when consumers started to request certain products, Meijer said.
“Our industry is doing all of the right things. What we needed to do was to tell Earls and show you what we do.”