Specialty Meat Producer
Current Situation: An opportunity exists for specialty meat producers to thrive in the sales of grass-fed, organic, “natural” specialty meat. Even if the Valley could produce to its potential, it would still only produce 49% of Island consumption, before even considering the significant market opportunities in the Metro Vancouver area and the potential for export.
In 2011, there were 812 head of beef cows in the Valley and 3269 head on Vancouver Island. Based on this, the Comox Valley produces 20.7% of the local consumption and island production is only 7.25% of the beef consumed on Vancouver Island.
- Historically, island beef herds have been small, 6 or less, making it challenging to produce and market consistent quality product.
- In the past decade, a number of larger herds have formed improving the quality, consistency and branding of island grass fed products.
- In 2011, there were 5935 acres producing hay, silage and pasture (perennial grass forages) to feed the herd in the Comox Valley. Forage yields can be twice as high as the BC Interior and quality can be maintained through the summer.
- There are another 13,500 acres of unfarmed land that could be converted to forage production, and production could be increased on much of the existing forage land. Analysis of the existing and potential forage production indicates that forage based livestock production, in the Comox Valley, could be increased by almost 19,000 animal units (from the current level of about 4150 animal units).
- Local processing capacity has been increased and improved to deal with the increased production.
Investment Opportunities: There are a wide range of opportunities to invest and participate in the growth of the specialty meat sector:
- Purchase and upgrade existing turnkey forage/livestock operations. There are a number of productive operating forage properties for sale as long-term farmers want to retire.
- Purchase and upgrade smaller scale or less productive properties.
- Buy raw land and convert from forestry type uses to forage/livestock production.
- Work with local producers to access land for community pastures.
- Lease properties from farm landowners who are working full-time elsewhere but keep the land for the rural lifestyle and/or lease from non-residents or corporate landowners.