A holiday weekend means cookouts, especially with many restaurant venues closed. More and more, those steaks on the grill are coming from the farm down the road. Livestock producers are finding ways to take advantage of this new market opportunity.
One of the unintended consequences of the pandemic has been a loss in confidence by consumers in their local food retail outlet. Panic buying at the pandemic outbreak and disruption in the meat processing industry resulted in empty meat cases in March and April. As a result, more and more consumers are seeking local sources of their favorite cuts of meat.
Chance Marshall, University of Wyoming Extension, says livestock producers are looking into direct sales to the public.
“It is a way for producers to diversify and take advantage of some better profits and navigate some turbulence in traditional livestock markets,” he stated.
Indiana Farm Bureau, in its recent policy meeting, voted to make funds and programs available to increase the number of small processors and other tools to help farmers develop direct to consumer sales efforts. Some state officials have indicated more state meat inspectors will be needed in the future as this industry grows in response to increased consumer demand for more locally produced and processed meat.
Marshall says there are plenty of market opportunities for producers who want to get into this business.
“There is a lot of consumer interest in this area right now. Some people just want to know where their food comes from, some want better quality, and some want special traits in their meat.”
He added that there are lots of different ways to position your meat product for different preferences.
However, Marshall urges producers to do their homework and put a plan in place.
“Producers need to do their research and have a plan. They need to find a place to get your product cut up and packaged, and there is a real shortage of that right now.”
He said this is an area into which producers do not often put as much work.
That plan must also include a marketing plan for your product.
“You need to have a plan on how you are going to sell your product and how you will get your information out there to the consumers,” said Marshall.
There are a number of resources available.
For producers: BOAH, Indiana Beef Cattle Association
For consumers: Indiana Grown for sources of local meat products.