AW says it remains committed to Sask beef producers following Roughriders Beyond

A&W Canada is reassuring ranchers that it supports Saskatchewan beef producers after the company aired a commercial showing Roughrider fans eating meatless burgers.The ad, which showed Rider fans outside Mosaic Stadium sampling the chain’s Beyond Burgers, drew criticism from beef producers and prompted a meeting between the football team and the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association.The association said its members were concerned the Roughriders brand was being “leveraged” to support Beyond Meat. In a letter to the association, the Riders apologized for any distress caused to beef producers.In a statement provided by A&W on Thursday, the company said it is reaching out to the Stock Growers Association to address its concerns.“It is important that they know we are advocates of Saskatchewan beef and our beef burgers firmly remain the most popular choice on our menu in the province. As a Canadian company born in the prairies, we appreciate how important agriculture is to Saskatchewan communities,” read the statement. Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.A&W said it buys millions of pounds of Canadian beef each year, and that Saskatchewan is one of its largest sources of meat. The company said it is proud of its ties to Saskatchewan ranchers.The statement went on to say many of A&W’s franchisees were raised on farms or are still farmers, and the company has a “long-standing” commitment to Saskatchewan.In its apology to ranchers, the Roughriders said the organization was not involved in the commercial’s production. A&W is a corporate partner with the Riders, and has permission to use Roughriders branding in its advertising.The Roughriders’ chief brand officer, Anthony Partipilo, wrote in a letter that the club met with A&W, and was told the ad was not meant to convince people to “stop eating beef.” Partipilo said A&W’s intent was to attract customers who do not regularly eat beef.A&W has drew criticism from Canadian ranchers in the past. The company has been accused of using beef from outside Canada, and criticized for advertising that its meat does not contain added hormones or steroids.Below is A&W’s full statement:“We are reaching out to the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association to address their concerns. It is important that they know we are advocates of Saskatchewan beef and our beef burgers firmly remain the most popular choice on our menu in the province. As a Canadian company born in the prairies, we appreciate how important agriculture is to Saskatchewan communities. Our commercial that celebrated Rider Nation and featured fans enjoying a Beyond Meat Burger runs for a few days more before we switch to a new campaign that features a new menu item for Saskatchewan: a 100% prairie-raised bison burger. A&W buys millions of pounds of Canadian beef every year and Saskatchewan is one of our largest sources of high-quality Canadian beef, a supply we constantly look to increase. We are proud of our ties to the Saskatchewan ranchers and farmers who also supply us with chicken, wheat, mustard and canola.We have 46 restaurants in Saskatchewan, with the 47th opening in Saskatoon this year and the 48th to open next year in Regina. Many of our franchisees grew up on local farms and several are still farmers themselves. Our restaurants are staffed with 1,500 great Saskatchewan residents, and we have a long-standing commitment to giving back to Saskatchewan, including raising over a million dollars for MS in the province and a $5 million commitment to the Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence at the University of Saskatchewan.”mmelnychuk@postmedia.com

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