Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File Photo)

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File Photo)

RANCH MUSINGS: Impacts of COVID-19 on food systems

Pivoting, as I understand it, is changing direction at a steep angle

As I go about my seasonal ranch work and spend quite some time in the larger world of farm organizations, I can’t help but try to imagine how our business might ‘pivot.’

Pivoting, as I understand it, is changing direction at a steep angle or keeping one foot on the ground and placing the other in a step in a different direction. All of this is done quickly.

Editors and columnists in the mainline farm journals are complementing farmers for how resilient their industry has been during the pandemic. We were able to provide our small inventory of our unsold processed product to consumers who wished to purchase locally.

All of us in the direct marketing business could have sold more.

It seems the tide of demand for local product has come in. Several articles have opined that the pandemic just sped up trends that were already underway.

READ MORE: Technology and visions for the future in food and agriculture

I recently took part in The International Dairy Federation’s outlook conference via an online webinar.

The most outstanding takeaway was the fact that sales of ice cream and potato chips sky rocketed during the pandemic. Comfort food, you might say.

I think the closest dairy to us doing local/regional marketing is Blackwell Dairy near Kamloops who sells up into this area. They make great ice cream. And I have heard of people who have tubs of Haagen-Dazs (high end ice cream) in their freezer.

It seems there are two broad categories of consumers: those for whom money is no object and those who are struggling to feed healthy food at a good price to their family.

This conference had a focus on consumer behavior. I will paraphrase the notes of one of my colleagues who took in the same conference:

Consumers are experiencing increased anxiety over COVID again. Sixty-five per cent of consumers have changed the way they buy.

Forty-five per cent are buying more online. Seventy-five per cent are spending more time online.

There has been an increase in the number of people who intend to grocery shop online after COVID.

To the extent that there has been a reduction in meat purchases by those surveyed by the Dairy Federation panelist, they have done so 58 per cent due to health concerns, a little less than that because of animal treatment and concern over carbon footprint.

READ MORE: Mental health and well-being in these times of COVID-19

Online shopping is increasing because people like it—just show up at the store having ordered online. In food services, there is a greater focus on speed of service and moving away from ‘dining in.’

Dairy sales online are up 201 per cent.

Cooking from scratch and easy-to-prepare are certainly up and the trend is expected to stay.

Sanitation concerns are high.

Back on the topic of meat sales and ‘local’ products. One of the headlines in the October issues of Country Life in B.C. in October is: BC BEEF set to launch.

The cattle industry in B.C. has been working for five years and is set to launch products from a leased facility in Westwold — the federally inspected meat plant owned by KML.

Product can be exported out of B.C. and Canada as well as serve the people of B.C.

It is interesting the new CEO was brought in from elsewhere in Canada. Good managers are hard to come by — a sign of the times. I look forward to sharing details in a future article.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at TRU.



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

AgricultureCariboo

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
81 new cases of COVID-19 detected in Interior Health Friday

One additional staff member at Kelowna long-term care home tests positive, no new deaths

Wes Gregg of Williams Lake enjoys skiing in the Cariboo Mountains as seen here March 2020. (Scott Horley photo)
Cariboo Mountains offer world-class adventures for backcountry enthusiasts

Wes Gregg of Williams Lake is training so he can teach avalanche safety in the region

School District 27 is hosting a virtual townhall meeting to address any concerns or questions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)
Interior Health and School District 27 to host third virtual townhall meeting Dec. 16

“I think the timing of this is good” - Superintendent Chris van der Mark

Highlands Irrigation Ltd. owners Dick and Donna Ford have sold the business to Southern Irrigation. The Williams Lake and Kamloops offices will remain open and the Fords will help with the transition of ownership before retiring fully. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Highland Irrigation Ltd. sold to new owners after almost 47 years in operation

Dick and Donna Ford say they are grateful to everyone who worked for them

A snow moon rises over Mt. Cheam in Chilliwack on Feb. 8, 2020. Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 is Mountain Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Dec. 6 to 12

Mountain Day, Dewey Decimal System Day and Lard Day are all coming up this week

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
First Nations Leadership Council demands justice for victims of B.C. social worker

Union of BC Indian Chiefs calls actions of Robert Saunders ‘nothing short of complete depravity’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Montreal Alouettes’ Michael Sam is set to make his pro football debut as he warms up before the first half of a CFL game against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. Sam became the first publicly gay player to be drafted in the NFL. He signed with the Montreal Alouettes after being released by St. Louis, but abruptly left after playing one game. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Study finds Canada a ‘laggard’ on homophobia in sports

Among females, 44 per cent of Canadians who’ve come out to teammates reported being victimized

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Most Read