Thursday was the first day of the Chinese New Year, and Canadian manufacturers were ready to celebrate the occasion. Among them was Maple Leaf Foods.
Maple Leaf just launched two Chinese-style sausage products–a way for the meat company to enter the Chinese-Canadian market. The sausage varieties come in pork and pork and chicken flavours.
Stella Law, Maple Leaf’s ethnic marketing manager, said the products are based on a Chinese sausage called lap cheong, which incorporates traditional shaoxing wine.
“[Lap cheong] is ubiquitous with Chinese cooking,” Law said. “But it has a large mainstream appeal as well.”
Maple Leaf benchmarked the sausages against similar products purchased at ethnic grocery stores such as T&T. Law said that through product development Maple Leaf was able to match or beat the quality and taste of sausages found in any ethnic store.
The sausages represent Maple Leaf’s first foray into ethnic since the launch of the company’s halal Mina line in 2012.
“We recognized that there was a consumer need for a hand-slaughtered halal offering outside of the traditional butcher shop. We met that need, and now Mina is a leading brand in the market,” Stella said. “We recognize that the ethnic consumer is absolutely important, and our next step if focusing on the Chinese-Canadian consumer.”
Law says timing the launch of the sausages with Chinese New Year was intentional. “We know that Chinese-Canadians tend to make a special shop during Chinese New Year, and we had to take advantage of this special opportunity,” she said. “We knew these shoppers were out in stores, and we want them to buy our products.”
The biggest marketing push for Maple Leaf’s Chinese-style sausages will come from print. Ads will run for six weeks in Chinese publications such as Ming Pao, Sing Tao and Canadian Chinese Express. All sausage packages also have Chinese scripture, making it easy for consumers to identify in-store.
On the digital side, the product will be supported through Facebook posts for Chinese Canadians. The website www.appehtite.ca also offers recipe suggestions for families looking to celebrate Chinese New Year.
“Chinese New Year lasts for 15 days so there’s many opportunities to really share this product with your family,” said Law. “People are going to each other’s homes to visit, and are bringing dishes. That’s really the group we’re targeting.”
The sausages will be available year-round. Law said the launch is the first step in Maple Leaf’s plan to reach more Chinese-Canadian consumers this year.