Knowing Your Competition

A recent report on NPR noted that grass fed beef is becoming more and more popular. In fact, George Seimon, a founder of Organic Valley, says that though the push for grass-fed beef started with activists who wanted to challenge an industry dominated by factory-scale feedlots, the demand for the product has now gone mainstream. That should be good news. But the supplier response wasn't exactly what activists may have expected.  It turns out a lot of the grass-fed beef found in mainstream markets is coming from half a world away.  And, in the process of selling this beef to American consumers, one marketer in particular, Sprouts, is telling a story that throws American beef under the bus. So who is buying all this imported beef?  Though Organic Valley is largely known as a supporter of local farmers, according to the NPR report, all of their grass-fed  beef comes from Australia. D'Artagnan, an online purveyor of gourmet meats, gets it's grass-fed beef from Australia, and what it calls "pasture raised beef" from Oregon.  (To D'Artagnan and their consumers, pasture raised means that the animals grew up on the range and were then grain finished.)  Whole Foods imports only about 3 percent of their grass-fed supply, with the rest coming from regional and local markets. And why are they buying imported beef?  Price is probably the most important factor.  Patricia Whisnant and her husband own and operate Rain Crow Ranch, and they supply grass fed beef to Whole Foods.

All the grazing management tips you need

Subscribe to read this article and over 2,500 more!

Subscribe today!

If you're already a subscriber, log in here.

4 thoughts on “Knowing Your Competition

  1. Our motivation is to naturally raise and humanely butcher livestock, not to have a lot of land/critters to supply the masses/mainstream markets. Yes, we want to make money, but we know not everyone appreciates this gentler approach to raising food animals.

    The folks who only want cheap and/or imported (unknown quality) products (meats, dairy, veggies, processed junk) are not in our “target” market. To each their own…

  2. I produce grass fed/grass finished beef in South Louisiana. We have been doing it here since 2005. The market has definitely grown in the last few years, but there are still some obstacles to growth out there. I think it is a combination of supply and price that is affecting us reaching the mainstream market. We have been approached by several restaurants and health food stores, but all they want is ground meat, and they want it for less than we can afford to sell it. They also want a steady supply of a few hundred lbs, sometimes every week, and that just isnt possible for our farm right now. We are in the process of expanding our herd, but that cant happen overnight, due to the quality standards we have in place for our beef. We have expanded our market base using a local farmers market, but we run into the same supply problem with running out of ground meat when we still have lots of premium cuts left to sell. It has definitely been a learn as you go experience, but I wouldnt rather be doing anything else.

  3. Good insight in this article. Plus: huge swaths of rainforest are cut every year in Brazil to make way for grass-grazing, since that’s what the government considers ‘agriculture’, therefore eligible for subsidy. So important for more responsible graziers to find a way to distinguish responsible grass-fed from ecosystem-destroying grass-fed.

    1. I AGREE, BUT THAT’S A TOUGH NUT! WE HAVE TO MARKET OUR PRODUCT ON IT’S MERITS NOT ONLY AS GREAT BEEF AGAINST MASS PRODUCED GRAIN FED, BUT NOW ALSO PRESERVATION OF RAIN FORREST!
      THE SIMPLEST WAY OUT IS ALREADY IN PLACE- STAY SMALL BUY LOCAL AND KNOW YOUR PRODUCER.BUT THERE WILL BE MANY, ESPECIALLY CIY MICE, WHO WILL NOT CARE ENOUGH TO MAKE THAT EFFORT.
      i’M HOPEFUL THAT AS MORE FOLKS GET MORE FOCUSED ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND MORE EVIDENCE EMERGES THAT PROPERLY MANAGED GRAZING CAN SEQUESTER CARBON FROM ATMOSPHERE INTO SOIL, AND REALIZE THAT SAVARY IS RIGHT “THERE’S NO OTHER SOLUTION” for getting it down, AND REALIZE THE BENEFITS OF SHORT DISTANCE TRANSPORT- MAYBE WE (or our kids)WILL WIN OUT!
      FOR THOSE WHO MAY BE OUT OF LOOP -TRY TedTalks 2013,Allan Savary Fighting Climate Change, and/ or wwwSoil Carbon Coalition or google Judith D Schwartz -Her paperback, COWS SAVE THE PLANET is EXCELLENT

Comments are closed.

Translate »