Beefalo Central

Marketing Beefalo - Alternative Marketing Ideas

While you will earn your best possible profit from selling your meat directly to end users, the reality is that not everyone is interested in or able to sell this way. Many farmers and ranchers either don’t have the time to devote to setting up and continually managing a direct marketing business and many others don’t feel that this is an area that is best suited to their skills and abilities. 

For those who are interested in raising Beefalo but who would rather not have to deal directly with lots of customers, the best alternative is to raise your Beefalo for other Beefalo producers. 

As the market for Beefalo meat continues to grow, Beefalo producers will be pressed to maintain an adequate supply of meat.  In many cases, Beefalo producers are currently smaller farming operations and their ability to increase their herd sizes is limited to the amount of land and resources that they currently have. 

​To “partner” with other Beefalo producers who already have meat markets established is an excellent alternative to doing it yourself.  A few tips to consider:

* Try to find other producers who are close by, preferably within your state and within a reasonable distance so that transporting animals doesn’t stress them and endanger their health (or their quality of meat).

* Look for producers who are raising their Beefalo meat animals with a similar feeding protocol.  This is important to them, as consistent meat quality is crucial to retaining their customers.  If their feeding protocol is not the same as yours, look at alternative ways of providing them with meat animals such as:

* Delivering the animals to them 6 - 9 months prior to maturity so they can put them on their feeding protocol.

* Look to see if you can modify your feeding protocol to match theirs. (Note: if this step is being taken, it might be best to have a written purchase agreement in place to protect both parties’ interests.)

Another alternative to direct marketing to the general public or supplying other Beefalo producers is to establish a meat market with just a few select businesses, such as a restaurant, food co-op, or a specialty grocery/meat store. Your profit will be slightly less than if you were selling to an end-user, but if you target high-end retailers, they should be able to pay you a higher price for your meat and still be able to mark it up sufficiently so that they can also profit from it.  A few tips for this marketing technique are:

* Know up front what your maximum supply capacity is for at least 2 years out.  Make sure that you can supply it on a consistent basis.  Your maximum supply capacity will be key to determining the size of the facility that you can supply. No restaurant or specialty store wants to put an item on its menu or shelves only to have it disappear in the spring when the producer can’t supply it.  

* Be up front with the buyer as to what your capacity is so that they can make an informed decision. If targeting a restaurant, try to work out an arrangement so that they take more than just one type of Beefalo meat.  For example, if you find a restaurant that only wants Beefalo burgers, you will either be faced with finding another outlet to buy roasts and steaks, or you will have to grind them up into burger.  Grinding up an entire steak animal will reduce your profit margin greatly.  It would be better if you could get them to take burger but also commit to taking a variety of steaks or roasts several times per year to use as item specials on their menu.

* If targeting a food co-op or specialty store, variety is less of a problem.  If the store has sufficient capacity to handle taking 400 lbs. of meat at a time, suggest that they purchase by the whole animal.  This would still provide you will a good profit (see The Beefalo Calculator) and would enable the store to decide what cuts of meat they want to sell.  They can also then take some of the meat fresh and the rest frozen. If they can’t handle that much meat at one time, you might be able to work out a storage arrangement with your butcher so that the store can pick up their meat when they need it.  If that’s not possible, you might be able to add a commercial freezer at your farm site to hold the meat until they order it.  Be sure to check on Federal and/or state requirements and regulations before entering into this type of arrangement.

If your farm or ranching operation is larger, you might look at supplying a small restaurant chain or a small chain of grocery stores in your area. Work up in size gradually.  You will be coordinating many different things between your farm, the processing facility, and the customers.  Getting too large before you have all the appropriate internal workings in place to track everything and make sure that the supply is consistent at all times can lead to a poor outcome.   

These are just a few of the possibilities for marketing your Beefalo meat.  Each producer in each geographic location will have his own unique set of circumstances that will present various options.  The key is identifying these opportunities and makes best use of them.