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Chef's Key Strategies to Capture Consumer Mind-Set

31 March 2011

Brad Smoliak gave delegates to the 2011 Banff Pork Seminar a taste of his energetic, fun and passionate outlook, and what the industry can do to capture the consumer mind-set in a presentation entitled 'Getting Pork on the Consumer's Plate'.

Brad Smoliak is equal parts Alberta boy, top chef, entrepreneur and pork evangelist, with a little 'rockstar' charisma thrown in for good measure. Born and raised in Alberta, he has been a chef for the past 20 years, including as co-founder of the internationally recognised Hardware Grill, and served as the executive chef for the Alberta government at the Alberta House at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. He also works as a research and product development chef specialising in developing formulations and recipes for the food manufacturing sector.

Perhaps most important for the Seminar audience, he is clearly a guy who is enthusiastic about pork. Here is a sample of thoughts he had on capturing the consumer mind-set.

Brad Smoliak

1. Create comfort food to grab the gold

"People are constantly searching out great tasting food, for themselves and their families," says Smoliak. The most talked about and highest reviewed dish as the Olympics was beer-brined (with Big Rock Traditional Ale) double pork chop with butter cabbage, chive mashed potatoes, and natural reduction. "Pure comfort food," he says.

2. Focus on the consumer

"Getting them to enjoy and use pork is the secret," says Smoliak. "We need to give pork some chachet." Some keys to doing that, he says, are to make it easier for the consumer to cook pork, to exploit specific products, celebrate the pig and develop value chains. Pulled pork is one example of success. "Pulled pork is a trendy dish that is now seen everywhere. What about pork burgers? Why not? A restaurant in the Crowsnest Pass featured it on their menu and it sold out."

3. Commitment and passion wins the race

Making progress is a process and it is not going to happen overnight, says Mr Smoliak. He added: "People really have to work together and stay committed to the process."

Industry needs to take care of its own business.

"The demand for pork needs to be created by us." What's step one? "Stop treating pork as a commodity and start treating and celebrating it as food," concluded Mr Smoliak.

This report was prepared by Meristem Land and Science.

March 2011

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