St. Helen’s Meat Packers has teamed up with the Ontario Corn Fed Beef Program (OCFBP) on two new beef products.
Rachel’s Corned Beef Brisket and North of 90 Beef Breakfast Strips are aimed at filling a void in the marketplace, giving more consumers a chance to enjoy Ontario Corn Fed Beef, the signature brand of the Ontario Cattle Feeders’ Association (OCFA). The collaboration is the latest example of the partnership between the OCFBP and the Toronto processor.
“We definitely try and focus on niche groups and niche markets, working within Ontario and creating part of that homegrown feel,” says Marco Maturi, director of marketing at St. Helen’s.
Maturi describes St. Helen’s as a mid-size packing and processing company. It was founded in 1980 by the Bielak family, but its corporate roots go back to the early 1950’s with the opening of a small butcher shop in Toronto.
Today, St. Helen’s Meat Packers Limited and its associated companies employ over 300 workers. It remains a family-owned and operated business.
Rachel Bielak, daughter of St. Helen’s President Robert Bielak, works in sales and product development. As one of a few members of the next generation who are working in the business, she is involved with developing the new Rachel’s Corned Beef Brisket.
Reflecting more than her name, a “Rachel” is also a type of sandwich that is often used as an alternative for the classic Reuben corned beef sandwich. As a brand name, it demonstrates their effort to target the product as a deli meat.
“It’s hard to find a pickled corned beef brisket in a store to make a really good quality corned beef sandwich like you would get in a deli in Toronto or Montreal,” says Rachel. “So we have developed a product that is comparable, if not better than that.”
Educating the consumer about the use of the product as a deli meat for sandwiches will be an important part of the marketing strategy. When giving away samples, Bielak says they like to show how the corned beef tastes on rye bread. “Once they try it, they want it,” adds Bielak.
The OCFA featured Rachel’s Corned Beef Brisket in a similar fashion at its booth at the Good Food Festival and Market in Toronto, April 23 to 25. The OCFA cooked the product inside the impressive “There’s No Taste Like Home” mobile kitchen unit.
New Breakfast Beef Strips
In addition to the brisket, St. Helen’s other new product featuring Ontario Corn Fed Beef – North of 90 Breakfast Strips – was also promoted during the show.
The bacon-style beef strips are aimed at developing a new market for Ontario beef. While the beef strips offer an alternative to consumers who do not eat pork because of religious dietary practices or for other reasons, Bielak says it is a distinct product.
“It stands on its own” for the same purposes. It’s a product we developed that we thought could be new and different in the beef world.”
On branding and the growing local food movement, both Bielak and Maturi say those are key are factors in today’s market. “You need something that people recognize and associate with quality – and know they’re going to be assured that it’s a good product,” says Bielak.
Besides consistent quality and tenderness in beef products, Maturi says more consumers and retailers are becoming interested in product size and appearance. “They want something that fits within the plate and the aesthetics, or look, of the product, so when they retail it, it sells itself.”
Maturi says the market is also demanding standards for quality and consistency. He notes that incorporating the OCFBP helps to deliver those benchmarks. “It adds that extra level of confidence in the product: you’re getting a consistent product; a quality product all the time.”