Canada Beef president Michael Young to retire in March

Young spent 45 years in the red-meat industry
calendar icon 9 February 2024
clock icon 4 minute read

Canada Beef president Michael Young is set to retire at the end of March 2024 after five years at the helm of the organisation, according to a recent press release. His retirement from Canada Beef marks the culmination of a remarkable 45-year career in the red meat industry.

A butcher by trade, Young started his career with Alberta Pork, followed by Sunterra Meats. He joined the Beef Information Centre in 1999 and would go on to work for every division of Canada Beef over the next several years.

Young’s career would grow to encompass domestic and global business development, brand, and strategic leadership, with a specialty in beef, veal and pork sales, marketing, product development and education in the domestic and export marketplace.

“I spent some time in Beef Marketing Services International [marketing Canadian beef to the US], followed by the Canadian Beef Export Federation,” said Young. “From there, I spent more than a dozen years at Canada Pork International before I returned to Canada Beef to serve as president. I think I may be the only person who has worked in every division of the organization.”

Young took on the role of Canada Beef President at an exciting time. Canadian beef producers were looking for a fresh approach to leadership and industry partners. One of the biggest challenges right out of the gate was to build confidence and demonstrate to producers and industry that Canada Beef was a relevant organization with much to offer, said Young.

“The committee responsible for the oversight of Canada Beef was very supportive as we moved forward with plans to build confidence and foster a positive work environment,” he said.

On that note, Young acknowledged the work done by the Canada Beef team. “Our staff are some of the hardest-working people in this, or any, industry,” said Young. “Their commitment, expertise, and vision are why this organization has thrived over the past five years.”

COVID-19 was another challenge Young faced during his tenure. “I worked in the beef industry during the 2003 BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) outbreak, and there were many parallels between that crisis and the pandemic,” he said. “During Covid, we were able to hit the ground running given our prior experience in crisis management and pivot programs and staffing to address industry needs.”

The pandemic also presented interesting discoveries, including the increased use of QR codes to access online restaurant take-out menus during lockdowns, and the opportunity that the technology’s sudden resurgence in popularity offered for marketing beef.

An experienced competition judge and long-time proponent of skills training focused on excellence in butchery, Young has also done his part as Canada Beef president to promote butchery and meat cutting to students with a goal to see more young people pursue a career in the meat business as a result. Young also serves as the Canadian judge for the World Butchers Challenge, known as The Greatest Butchery Event on Earth.

His retirement follows a significant milestone for the organization – in 2023, Canada Beef celebrated the 50th anniversary of beef marketing activities in Canada and abroad. Young was honoured to present an engaging retrospective of the evolution of the organization and industry during a special luncheon event honouring the occasion.
When asked about his greatest accomplishment as Canada Beef’s President, Young said, “I am most proud of the team we built over the past five years, and I’m grateful for their support and dedication.”

Young went on to say that he is also excited about the Canadian Beef Information Gateway (Gateway). “Launching the Gateway took a tremendous amount of work and effort by the team, but it provides a way to connect with millennials and young people—groups we have struggled to reach—and I’m looking forward to watching it grow. The challenge now is to promote the Gateway and leverage industry partnerships.”

Young is leaving the organization in a sound position, well-funded and on a path to success. “My wish is for a prosperous and profitable future for the Canadian beef and cattle industry,” he said. “I hope to see new producers enter the field and that younger people join the business of raising Canadian beef.”

Young is looking forward to an active retirement and plans to spend time with his wife Karla and their grandkids, travelling, RV camping, and woodworking.

He’s also looking forward to helping his son Chris with his sausage business, Brut Charcuterie. “Chris and I used to make sausage together when he was growing up which sparked his interest in charcuterie. I’m excited to get hands-on with sausage-making again,” Young said.

Spending the last five years of his career with Canada Beef has been an honour and a privilege, Young noted. “In a way, everything else I’ve done in my career led me to this position and gave me the background and skill set to lead this team; it’s been incredibly rewarding,” he said.

Young’s last day at Canada Beef will be March 28, 2024.

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