Expect to see the price of meat jump this year, according to a Dalhousie University study | Shutterstock

The cost of meat is expected to increase 7-9% overall this year, according to Dalhousie University’s mid-year food price report.

This is up from the university’s December 2016 forecast of a 4-6% increase for 2017.

“Farmgate prices for cattle have gone up on average by 15% but have not affected beef retail prices, at least not yet,” the report said.

“However, we have noticed that some cuts have increased in price by as much as 20% since January.”

Using spot checks in January and May, Dalhousie said the prices of certain meats have increased up to 11%. The cost of striploin grilling steak, lean ground beef and pork sirloin chop roast in particular have already seen price increases, the report said, but the biggest increases are yet to come.

Hog futures are also expected to drive prices upward, but there has so far not been any evidence of this happening.

“Unlike beef, we could see pork prices at retail rebound much sooner, perhaps as soon as early fall.”

The report said the price of chicken will remain steady this year.

Fish and seafood prices are forecast to increase 1-3% in 2017, which is a downgrade from the 4-6% previously forecast in December.

The price of vegetables is expected to grow 2-4% this year, down from December’s forecast of 4-6%. The price of some produce is expected to increase more than previously anticipated, as wet weather in California has led to crop losses.

“Lower inventories, coupled with higher demand for greens in the spring, increased prices for lettuce, celery and other produce,” the report said.

The report is calling lettuce “this year’s cauliflower,” referring to a 2016 spike in the price of that particular crop, but unlike cauliflower, lettuce’s price increase is unrelated to a drop in the Canadian dollar.

The projects of potential price increases follow a period of food deflation in Western Canada.




Top 100 public companies: Lesser lights landing larger list gains

Revenue rising but profit not following suit for many major players

Rising stars on Business in Vancouver’s Top 100 Public Companies list are giving B.C.’s biggest companies a run for their money when it comes to revenue growth.

BIV data shows that the average total revenue of B.C.’s top 10 publicly owned companies increased 10% between 2012 and 2016 – to $5.4 billion from $4.9 billion. But that percentage increase was dwarfed by the growth of the top 100’s other 90, whose average revenue growth jumped 45% during the same period – to $420 million from $290 million.

Many of the top 10, companies like Telus (TSX:T; NYSE:TU), Finning International (TSX:FTT) and Westcoast Energy Inc. (TSX:W), have retained their top ranking on BIV’s list for the last five years. However, companies like Turquoise Hill Resources (TSX, NYSE, Nasdaq:TRQ) are hot on their heels. Turquoise Hill has moved up 48 spots on the list since 2013 and is now ranked 16th. Its 2016 revenue was 10 times what it was in 2013.

Pacific Insights Electronics Corp. (TSX:PIH) has also risen rapidly up the list.

It was close to breaking into the top 50 in the current rankings after entering the top-100 list at 98 in 2013.

Most of the top 10 have increased revenue but not profit over the past five years.

Revenue and profits for top resource companies like Goldcorp (TSX:G; NYSE:GG) and Teck Resource Ltd. (TSX:TECK.B; NYSE:TECK) dropped between 2012 and 2015.

Goldcorp’s revenue continued to recover from its 30% drop between 2012 to 2013, but it has yet to return to 2012 levels. The company reported losses of more than $5 billion in 2015.

Teck also posted a multibillion-dollar loss in 2015, and First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (TSX,LSE:FM) reported a $780 million loss.

Goldcorp’s stock was one of the worst-performing among B.C.’s top 10. The company’s stock price has dropped 22% since June 2016.

The only top-10 stock to perform worse than Goldcorp’s was Lululemon Athletica Inc. (Nasdaq:LULU).

It has dropped 26% since June 2016 even though the yoga-
wear maker’s most recent annual report showed revenue up 15% compared with 2015, the highest of any of the top 10.

The company has also generated the largest five-year revenue growth in the top 10 and is one of only three top-10 companies to post profit and revenue growth consistently over the past five years.

Lululemon’s stock price decline has slowed somewhat, dropping 2.3% since mid-May.

West Fraser Timber Co Ltd. (TSX:WFT) and Canfor Corp. (TSX:CFP) are the other two companies in the top 10 that have generated consistent profit and revenue growth.

Although the revenue growth of the two B.C.-based forestry companies pales in comparison to Lululemon’s 76% over five years, both have posted better earnings than the yoga-wear maker.

West Fraser Timber’s profits jumped 213% between 2015 and 2016; Canfor’s grew 122%.

Unsurprisingly, the two forestry companies have had two of the strongest-performing stocks in the top 10 between 2012 and 2016, with average yearly price increases of 51.5% and 37.9%, respectively.

The only stock to outperform the two forestry companies was Teck Resources.

It has jumped more than 60% over the past year after Teck’s recovery from posting a $2.5 billion loss in 2015. 


B.C. market acquiring a taste for aboriginal cuisine

Caterers helping give traditional native dishes a bigger seat at the mainstream table
Gerry Brandon, director of Friendship Catering Services, says a rising interest in aboriginal heritage and food is lifting sales for the organization | Chung Chow

Aboriginal catering companies are building a niche sector in B.C. by bringing millenniums-old food traditions to a new audience.

Among the region’s handful of aboriginal caterers – who are part of the region’s small but growing aboriginal hospitality industry that includes the boutique hotel Skwachàys Lodge and the restaurant Salmon n’ Bannock – is Cedar Feast House Catering, founded by chef Theresa Contois.

Contois, who is of Anishinaabe and Lakota origin, started the company in 2012 when she realized the market potential for aboriginal food.

“It’s kind of like a new food,” Contois said. “Nobody really, at the time, tapped into aboriginal cuisine.”

As an instructor in Vancouver Community College’s aboriginal culinary arts program, Contois said it’s important to know the origins of aboriginal food,  which she described as an “up-and-coming cuisine.”

Contois said the rising interest in aboriginal food in Vancouver isn’t hard to explain.

“Aboriginal cuisine is a healthier cuisine depending on how it’s prepared. But it can also be quite delicious and high end.”

Friendship Catering Services, which runs its business as a subset of the non-profit Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society, is another caterer specializing in aboriginal food.

The society’s catering director, Gerry Brandon, an Anishinaabe chef and educator from Ontario, said more people are becoming interested in learning about aboriginal heritage and food.

For Brandon, who was among thousands of First Nations children taken away from their families and placed in foster homes during the infamous “’60s Scoop,” said being an aboriginal caterer is a part of his path toward reconciliation.

“As a scoop child, reconciliation is very personal to me,” he said. “I said, ‘Can I find reconciliation within myself?’ and I said, ‘No, I can’t because I can’t get my life back.’ But I said what I can do is show a whole world how talented First Nations people are [at] this whole idea of putting food together.”

Contois said authentic native ingredients can be expensive – but are worth it in her effort to add a new twist to aboriginal dishes.

Due to the volume of cooking that Brandon and his staff must accommodate, the traditional means of sourcing ingredients are often not possible.

“I have to be in town here cooking for 300 people at a barbecue, and I can’t get anybody to go out and forage that many mushrooms or that many fiddleheads,” he said.

When clients spend a little more money on an event, it makes it easier to get those special native ingredients.

“If you are charging $100 a head, you get a lot more leeway than if you are charging $21 per 150 people. Ultimately, it still comes back to being a business.”

Brandon said his sector is important because aboriginal food is rooted in nature and a sustainable connection with the planet. And while the world has been gradually turning toward a more sustainable approach to food, he said, “Natives have been doing that for thousands of years.”

Contois added that it’s important for more people to know about aboriginal food as a key to the history and culture of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples.

“If you’re curious about aboriginal cuisine and the people, you want to know what foods they survived on because we’ve survived for so many years without getting diseases.”

Brandon’s longer-term plans for Friendship Catering Services involve adding a food truck and a retail line of rubs and sauces, and giving back more to people.

“I have big dreams about growing this … into a management-style business where we can help build other businesses [and] reserves with systems and training – help them produce real food on the reserve out of band kitchens and community kitchens.” 


New $150 million jet fuel pipeline project underway

Days could be numbered for current Kinder Morgan pipeline that supplies YVR with jet fuel
Artist’s rendering of the new marine terminal and fuel receiving facility on the south arm of the Fraser River | Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corp.

While debate rages over the Kinder Morgan Canada (TSX:KML) Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, another pipeline that has also generated controversy – one that could actually cut into Kinder Morgan’s business – is now under construction.

Last month, site preparation began in Richmond for a new tank farm that is part of a $150 million jet fuel terminal and pipeline that will supply airlines operating out of Vancouver International Airport (YVR) with jet fuel.

Once built, it could make obsolete the 48-year-old Kinder Morgan pipeline that currently supplies most of the airport’s fuel.

Numerous regulatory delays and opposition from the City of Richmond put the project several years behind schedule and more than doubled its original estimated capital cost, from $70 million to $150 million.

The project was at first slated to be finished in 2012. It is now expected to be completed in 2019 – provided there are no more delays in getting some of the outstanding permits that are still needed.

“The environmental assessment process did take quite a lot longer than we anticipated,” said Adrian Pollard, spokesman for the Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corp. (VAFFC), the consortium of 25 airlines that is financing the project. “So we suffered some delays just due to regulatory requirements.”

The project involves building a new marine terminal on the south arm of the Fraser River, a tank farm and a 15-kilometre pipeline that will run through Richmond along Highway 99 and stretch west to Lulu Island.

The new terminal will be able to receive Panamax vessels, which will allow the consortium to source jet fuel from Asia.

Airlines operating at YVR get most of their jet fuel from a 48-year-old pipeline owned by Kinder Morgan, but only about 40% of the jet fuel moving through that pipeline comes from the former Chevron refinery, which is now owned by Parkland Fuel Corp. (TSX:PKI). The rest comes by barge from the Cherry Point Refinery in Washington state, and by tanker truck.

Because the Kinder Morgan airport pipeline is maxed out, it sometimes means up to 45 tanker trucks per day must augment the airport’s supply of jet fuel during peak periods, Pollard said.

The problem will only get worse as air traffic at YVR continues to grow.

“This project is being justified again and again, year after year, with the growth and statistics coming out of the airport,” Pollard said.

In the 10 years since the jet fuel pipeline project was first proposed, passenger numbers at YVR have grown by nearly 30%, and total passenger numbers are expected to grow to 35 million by 2037 from 22.3 million in 2015.

The airlines that belong to the consortium now rely on two refineries for all of their fuel. YVR has six to eight days of fuel storage capacity. The new tank farm will add a few more days.

The big concern for airlines is that if either or both refineries ever halted production for an extended time, they would have only about a week of fuel stored.

Once the VAFFC project is completed, the consortium will be able to buy jet fuel on the open market. South Korea is one likely supplier, said Rob Smith, energy director for IHS Markit.

He expects having access to new markets for jet fuel will drive prices down, which will affect both the refinery in Burnaby and Kinder Morgan.

The new pipeline might mean that the days are numbered for the Kinder Morgan pipeline that now supplies YVR, because airlines will be able to supply all of their own fuel.

It’s not clear what Kinder Morgan’s plans are for its jet fuel pipeline. The company did not return calls by press time.

“The airlines are the end customer,” Pollard said. “They’re financing this project; naturally they’re going to use it. And the capacity on that existing line will decline to such a point where it’s not really economical to maintain it.”



Photo: Muriel Lasure/Shutterstock

A growing number of Vancouver developers are looking across the Strait of Georgia for opportunities in the capital region, where prices and housing demand are strong and the economy is booming.

Several companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars and built thousands of homes in capital region projects in the past two decades, often in the form of downtown condominium towers where the urban lifestyle is catching on. Once they build here, they often stay to put up more projects.

The developers say they are attracted by a ready pool of buyers, including those who cash out in Vancouver and move here for less-expensive housing.

Concert Properties is a seasoned member of Victoria’s development scene. It has a Victoria team and is on the lookout for its next condominium site, said Brian McCauley, president and CEO.

It made its first purchase here in 1999 when it bought a chunk of land called the Y lot from the province. That site became home to the Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour Hotel at 728 Humboldt St., and two condominium towers, the Astoria and the Belvedere.

“It wasn’t just about coming in and building one project and leaving,” McCauley said. “We felt we could build a presence and be there long term.”

Victoria is a predictable marketplace, and the company has been willing to modify plans to accommodate community concerns, he said.

“The politicians have generally been supportive of good urban design and we’ve lived through several mayors there. We’ve always found it a reasonable political environment to do work in.”

He added: “The only thing that I think is important — and I think many of our competitors have found this in Victoria — is it is not a big market. So it is one that you can easily get overexposed in if you are not careful.” McCauley figures that the ideal project size for a residential development here is about 70 to 80 units.

Concert’s aim is to “stay focused in urban cores where we have really witnessed over the last 10 or 12 years a resurgence in downtown lifestyle. People [are] willing to live closer to the core to avoid having cars and be closer to work and be closer to recreation. We’ve seen that in just about all of our projects.”

Concert also built the 66-unit Chelsea on Burdett Street, 365 Waterfront at the Selkirk Waterfront, and the 157-unit Era condominium on Yates Street. The company converted the Queen Victoria Hotel into a rental apartments. It won rezoning last month for its former Crystal Court Hotel property on Belleville Street that includes a 15-storey tower as part of a new seniors community with 131 rental units and 42 condos.

Concert is partners with Victoria’s Jawl Properties in the development of the six-acre, mixed-use Capital Park site next to the legislature. “It’s just such an exceptional opportunity and so rare to have a site of that size and scale,” McCauley said.

Vancouver’s Reliance Properties is working with heritage buildings in or near downtown.

“We focus on urban renewal and urban densification and that is what is happening in Victoria right now,” said president Jon Stovell. Victoria is “great walkable city, has a great vibe, has a great culture,” said Stovell. He added that another factor is Victoria’s official community plan, which sets out a “robust approach to growth and development.”

Reliance developed the 122-unit Janion Hotel, which brought micro-units to the city, on the north side of the Johnson Street Bridge.

The company is seeking a rezoning for its Northern Junk property, on the south side of the bridge, with two old brick warehouses. Stovell is hoping for approval, aiming to start marketing next year.

The Fairfield Block, the Board of Trade Building in Bastion Square and the Guild Building, all historic downtown properties, are among Victoria holdings in Reliance’s portfolio.

Continued growth on the lower Island is expected because of demographics, and Vancouver’s home prices, Stovell said.

He would like Victoria to consider a procedural change allowing council to delegate some of its authority in the development process. In Vancouver, the planning director or the development permit board can approve certain projects consistent with official community plan or zoning, he said.

Vancouver-based Chard Developments, has built six condo towers in downtown Victoria over the last decade. The company recently received approval from Victoria to build two 21-storey condo towers on Yates Street with market and affordable housing.

Vancouver’s Townline is completing final touches on its Hudson Walk Two rental project. This will be the fourth of six buildings Townline plans in its Hudson District. In 2006, Townline converted the historic Hudson's Bay building into a 152-unit condominium development called The Hudson. After that, there was the 120-unit Hudson Mews and the 178-unit Hudson Walk One, both rental.

Other Vancouver developers include:

• Onni, which is planning 10 buildings with commercial space and hundreds of apartments at Colwood Corners. The company took over after the original developer ran into financial problems.

• Robert Bosa’s Bosa Properties, which is building the $40-million, 17-storey Encore tower, with 134 units, at Bayview Place at Songhees. It is slated to be finished next year. It also completed the neighbouring 21-storey, Promontory with 177 units, in 2014. BlueSky Properties, a division of Bosa Properties, has started construction on its $70-million, 209-unit rental project on Pandora Avenue.

• Aragon Properties Ltd., which holds the former Trio Ready-Mix gravel pit in Saanich, where it is working on plans to develop just over 300 homes.

Times Colonist


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