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Sobeys to carry Certified Island Beef in PEI

New deal is ‘quite a coup’ for three-year-old brand, says industry official

In what is being described as a breakthrough for the home-grown product, five Sobeys stores in Prince Edward Island are now selling the nearly three-year old Certified Island Beef (CIB) brand. The new distribution deal is the result of a partnership between Sobeys, the Cattle Producers of Prince Edward Island, the Food Island Partnership and Atlantic Beef Products. CIB formally launched in 2013, although only select Ontario stores had carried the premium-priced brand until now. Shauna Selig, communications manager at Sobeys, said that Atlantic Beef Products’ former business model for CIB was largely focused on restaurants and niche retailers, as opposed to mainstream grocers. “We’ve worked with Atlantic Beef Products for years and have a great business relationship, so when we approached them to talk about expanding our business, CIB came up conversation as an opportunity. It’s one we were quick to jump on,” she says. The deal is part of Sobeys’ continued commitment to addressing increased consumer demand for locally sourced products, she says. Sobeys operates two stores in Charlottetown, as well as single stores in Montague, Stratford and Summerside. Sobeys is carrying a full variety of CIB cuts, similar to other beef brands, says Selig. “The quality of the product is what our customers expect from Sobeys – top notch,” she says. “It’s important to us that no matter the brand, when a Sobeys customer picks a cut of beef, they are getting a quality product, and CIB has certainly met and exceeded customer expectations.” Greg Pearce, director of provincial food brands with Food Island Partnership, an industry organization that works to promote the province’s food industry, says the new deal is “quite a coup” for the CIB brand. Approximately 90 family-owned farms on the island currently produce CIB, which is raised to AAA-grade standards using no hormones and humane slaughtering practices. The additional work means that distributors pay a $110 premium on every animal sold under the CIB brand, with that money divided between the cattle farmers, the processing plant and the Food Island Partnership. Distributors recoup that investment at retail. Pearce says the goal is to sell 600 head of CIB cattle this year, up from approximately 450 when the program first started. Increased sales are based on increased consumer demand at both the distributor and consumer levels,” he says. While Sobeys does not have an exclusive deal to carry the CIB brand in PEI, Pearce said there are currently no discussions with other retailers. “We’re very happy with the partnership at the moment,” he says.

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