Value-added niche markets: A closer look at natural beef

September BRT_FINAL from Scott Radcliffe on Vimeo.

For years, locally-produced, natural beef has been a value-added niche in the cattle business. However, with a growing millennial population who wants to know more about the food they eat and who tend to ascribe to the idea of sustainably and locally produced food, the niche is growing.

But is it right for you? In this month’s Beef Roundtable, third in a series exploring value-added markets, two veterans of the natural beef market describe why they chose to tackle the many twists and turns of selling direct to consumers, retailers and restaurants and what it takes to be successful.

Robbie LeValley is from western Colorado where she and her husband Mark operate LeValley Ranch. They are part of six Colorado ranch families who 20 years ago formed a coop called Colorado Homestead Ranches to add more value to their livestock. The coop owns its own USDA packing plant, a wild game processing facility and two store fronts.

LeValley is joined by Dave Fischer from southern Indiana. After a career in supply chain technologies to improve manufacturing efficiency, Dave and his wife Diana returned to the family farm in 2002 and established Fischer Farms, LLP and Fischer Farms Natural Foods, LLC. In 2004 they began selling their beef directly to restaurants and individual consumers. As their business grew, they created partnerships with a meat processor and other local producers to supply over 16 skids of beef, pork, eggs, chicken and even maple syrup weekly to over 100 restaurants and retail stores across the state of Indiana.

The Beef Roundtable is a joint project with BEEF and Purdue University. It’s a monthly video podcast that features some of the top leaders in the beef industry co-hosted by Ron Lemenager, Extension beef specialist at Purdue University and BEEF Senior Editor Burt Rutherford.

In addition to being available on beefmagazine.com, the sessions can be viewed at www.beefroundtable.com, on the Beef Roundtable YouTube channel and iTunes.

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