Matt LeRoux, an agriculture marketing specialist at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Ithaca, NY, is creating a win-win opportunity for livestock producers and their customers. His “Meat Locker” project helps producers find direct-market customers who will purchase in bulk, and then provides customers with a place to store the meat they buy.
The most profitable way for farmers to sell their meat, and the most affordable way for consumers to buy it is in wholes, halves, or quarters. But people struggling to make ends meet, or those living in apartments or condos, or folks who move often, don’t have a freezer of their own to store these bulk purchases. Matt LeRoux’s idea is to serve both producers and consumers by bringing back a service popular in the 1940s: Meat lockers – a walk in freezer for consumers to store their local, bulk meat purchases.
With $80,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers Market Promotion Program, LeRoux’s project will set up two shared spaces — one in Ithaca, NY and one in the nearby town of Corning, NY. Each location will serve about 100 members who will rent space for $3 to $5 a month. Rental units are large enough to hold an average size quarter of beef. Like a CSA pickup, members can access their spaces during certain hours each week.
The Meat Locker project is supported by Cornell Cooperative Extension’s meat marketing website, MeatSuite.com. The website is a searchable directory of local farms selling meat in bulk quantities to help consumers “find their farmer.” As a kind of “meat-matchmaker” the site will reduce the struggle to find new customers that farmers often experience, and make it easy for customers who often don’t know how to find farmers raising livestock to meet their personal preferences.
The Meat Suite & Meat Locker projects: Conquering the Barriers
Match-making: Farmers struggle to find new customers, customers seeking freezer trade meats don’t know where to begin searching for farmers that raise livestock according to their personal preferences.
Consumer Affordability: The average price per pound paid by consumers is lower than grocery store pricing, while delivering a premium above commodity pricing to the farmer- a true win-win!
Limited time for marketing: Freezer trades sales take less of the farmer’s time per unit sold (1 animal) than farmers’ markets, sales to restaurants, meat CSA’s, and farm store/stands.
Storage: Consumers reported loud and clear that they don’t have spare freezers. Between people with low-income, apartment dwellers, and the transient nature of our Ithaca population, people simply don’t have space to store their bulk meat purchases, even if they really want to buy this way.
This Project Could Use Your Help!
Parts of the proposed budget were cut so it did not receive all the money required to be completely successful. If you’d like to contribute to the fundraiser putting together the additional dollars, you can do so here.
Would this work in your area?