Some P.E.I. restaurants, producers encouraged by new Burger Love direction
'We want to bring more people to the table'
For the past nine years, Burger Love has encouraged P.E.I.'s restaurants to create their best beef burger, promoting Island beef in the process.
Now, for the first time, the campaign will be expanding to also include burger creations made from alternative proteins and vegetable options.
While beef is still king for Brad MacDonald, chef at Crafters Burger Company in Charlottetown, he said the burger campaign's new direction comes as more and more restaurants are looking to update their menus to accommodate chicken, turkey or veggie burgers.
"I think people are a lot more health conscious, a lot more aware of their choices. That's why we try to offer a broader spectrum of products. It can't just be all beef all the time," MacDonald said.
"It gets more people involved. It gets people who are vegetarian, people who are pescatarians, now they're part of it. Now they can not be the only person in the office who can't talk about Burger Love."
Until now, April's Burger Love campaign was all about beef. Fresh Media, which helped launch the campaign nearly a decade ago, started it as a way to get restaurants to use and sell Island beef.
What's more is that the Cattle Producers Association of P.E.I. has historically been the campaign's title sponsor — but not anymore.
We want to bring more people to the table ... we can go out and experience Burger Love together.— Melody Dover, Fresh Media
The producers of alternative proteins and vegetables have been wanting similar campaigns for some time, said Melody Dover, with Fresh Media.
Customers have also been wanting more choice, she said. With the new format, restaurants will be able to enter two burgers into the contest. They can use anything in their patty, as long as it's local.
"We want to bring more people to the table ... we can go out and experience Burger Love together," Dover said.
The new format also means that for the first time, a vegan restaurant like Stir It Up, can participate in the campaign.
"It's nice to see they're welcoming and opening their doors to more options, and not only promoting Island beef producers," said Kevin MacLean, co-owner of the vegan restaurant.
The campaign could also see a lot more turkey, if the owners of Larkin Brothers Poultry in New Glasglow, P.E.I., have anything to say about it. They said they will be trying to convince the 15 restaurants they supply, to enter turkey burgers into the contest.
"It's something that's probably not going to start big. But maybe it's something we can start, get a hold of a few restaurants, and maybe it's something that can increase over time and increase our sales and awareness of our product," said Paul Larkin, co-owner of the poultry producer.
Of course, all of this means Island beef producers will suddenly have to share some of the Burger Love pie. But the Cattle Producers Association of P.E.I. said it's meeting with members later on in the week and Burger Love sponsorship will be on the agenda.
"It's an expansion of sorts," Dover said. "Beef is still on the table. And again, it's up to the restaurants to make that choice."