Airport Hopes Beef Processing Proposal Will Fly
Prince George, B.C.- News last week that Prince George is being considered for a beef processing plant, is music to the ears of Prince George Airport Authority CEO and President John Gibson.The provincial and federal governments announced last week they are contributing $144,000 to the BC Cattlemen’s Association (BCCA) to develop a business plan to determine the viability of such an endeavour. ( see previous story).”We’ve been doing some work with various interests in China, including trade companies, and they say one of the biggest markets we ( YXS) should be targeting is food production.”
Gibson says the Airport has been working with the BC Cattlemen’s Association for about a year now as beef and seafood were identified as target production opportunities “There is a chance right now for BC Cattlemen’s to develop a bit more detailed plan to have a production facility in the Prince George region.” The Cattlemen’s Association estimates a beef production plan in this region could provide a quarter of a billion dollars a year in sales and provide up to 800 jobs.
Such a production facility would fit well with the Prince George Airport’s plan to develop cargo shipments to Asia ” Not all the beef production would be international beef, much of it would be for domestic consumption” says Gibson “but it’s the type of product, high end cuts of beef, are really desired in China and in high demand. It’s the fresh component that we would be interested in shipping overseas.”
Gibson says initial studies show the beef processing plant would be smaller until the number of livestock in the region ramps up “It’s not that there would be a flight going ( to China) everyday, it would be an anchor part of production that would bring aircraft to the region, and allow us to build up on other sources of food, perishables, or whatever.”
Gibson says there are already Chinese cargo flights that fly over Prince George on a daily basis “Probably ten a day” as different carriers head on to US markets. He says they would target some of the carriers that already pass overhead, “If they (BC Cattlemen’s Association) can get regular production then the carriers can build it into their schedule. If it’s a large amount of once a month, it would probably be a charter of a special aircraft.” Gibson says it would be preferable to land one of the flights that already fly over P.G. “The pricing to land an aircraft that is already flying right past you is less expensive, and would not require a full plane load for them to stop in Prince George.”
There is still a lot of work to do, so it would be another year or two down the road. Gibson says in the meantime, the Airport continues to work with some Chinese interests on perishable food items “That’s a key component of getting aircraft to come in here. So we’ve got some other Chinese interests coming here next month. The biggest thing is tying the cargo to the buyers in China and the distribution so that’s why the Chinese component is so important. We know all the shippers on this side that’s not the issue, we need to get the buyers and the supply chain folks, that’s the only missing link right now.”