As production slowly resumes at an Alberta-based XL Foods meat processing plant, the company isn't just facing the scrutiny of inspectors but marketing experts say it also has to repair its reputation with the grocery stores that buy its beef.
The southern Alberta plant located in Brooks has been linked to 15 cases of E. coli across the country, and thousands of its products have been recalled from as far away as Beijing. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency also expanded its recall again Friday.
Debbi Andrus, who teaches at the University of Calgary's business school, said retailers will have some tough questions for the company.
"In terms of meeting all of the changes that have to happen, as well as, can they handle the volume now and I suspect that they are looking at other options now in terms of beef suppliers," said Andrus.
At least one grocery store chain in Calgary said it will continue to carry meat from the processing plant in Brooks when it fully reopens.
Trevor Moore of Calgary Co-op said that XL and Cargill are its only options in Western Canada for large suppliers, so it will keep buying from both — as long as CFIA says it's safe.
"Because it was an exclusive beef supplier of ours we had product available for two weeks and we’re coming up on those two weeks, so we’ve certainly been in contact with Cargill and have been able to get some products from High River," said Moore.