I’m not talking about our job description as human beings, followers, moms, dads, friends or even family. Those are pretty detailed, but pretty simple. I’m talking more about what our job is as ranchers, or cattle producers.
I probably will get some disagreement here, but our primary responsibility isn’t about taking care of the environment or making money. Those are moral imperatives and part of the reason we are in business, but they aren’t our primary responsibility. Even taking care of the animals, while part of our code and why we do what we do, isn’t the primary reason.
Ultimately, we exist to feed the world, but even that doesn’t require ranchers, per se. Sure, a good part of the world is not farmable, and cattle harvest grass better than anything in the world, but the world can eat grain or pork, and we have even proven that the world will eat chicken if it is hungry enough.
We have to provide a product that the world not only wants to eat, but wants to eat more than the alternatives. There are a lot of factors that go into that equation – cost of production, safety, eating attributes, peoples’ perception of what we do and how we do it, to name just a few. It is these factors that we address as managers, and as an industry, and how we do it, that determines our success.
I think those other factors control so much of our thought process that it is difficult to remember that we are in the business of feeding the consumer and providing great eating experiences. Don’t get me wrong; everything we do, from genetic selection, management practices to herd health, is geared toward making that eating experience better. But if we are honest with ourselves, it is often secondary.
Without profits, land and the animals, we don’t have an industry or an individual business. But then again, we don’t have much of either without that happy consumer.
It has been discussed and cussed for years that the real difficulty in becoming truly customer centric is that we have so many customers in between us and the final consumer that the connection is very difficult if not impossible to make. But maybe it’s a little easier now than in the past. And it’s a connection that we simply have to accomplish.