Oberto Beef Jerky will expand its product portfolio this month as it enters the trail mix category with the launch of Oberto Trail Mix. Oberto’s entry is part of the company’s bigger mission to provide more delicious, convenient, and “better for you” snacking product forms featuring the unmatched lean protein power of its Oberto Beef Jerky. The first three Oberto Trail Mix flavors – Original Beef, Spicy Sweet Beef, and Teriyaki Chicken — are now rolling out to select retailers nationwide.
The introduction of Oberto Trail Mix comes as the beef jerky and trail mix categories are both seeing explosive growth. Combined U.S. retail category sales of jerky and trail mix exceed $3 billion, with explosive growth this yea, according to Nielsen ScanTrak.
Oberto Trail Mix has been in development for more than a year. At Oberto’s integrated research and development lab and U.S. Department of Agriculture-licensed manufacturing facility in the Seattle area, the company developed a proprietary blend that guarantees delicious, tender jerky while adding premium nuts, seeds, fruit and dark chocolate. Oberto’s innovative trail mix not only satisfies hunger, but delivers high protein without artificial ingredients.
David Lakey, Oberto’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, said this is a natural expansion of the Oberto Brand. “Active consumers want more protein in their snacks. Loyal Oberto Beef Jerky consumers also eat a lot of trail mix, and our research indicates they’re very interested in this new snack option while on the go.”
To support the launch of Oberto Trail Mix at retail, Oberto has created a range of in-store merchandising vehicles, including shelf talkers and aisle and counter rack displays. It will also promote the new line through digital and social media marketing – including contests and branded content featuring its line-up of major-league athletes.
From grilled steaks to burgers to delicious roasts, consumers seek top-quality beef cuts and rely on local grocers to help them serve their favorite family meals. At this year’s Certified Angus Beef ® Annual Conference, held in Tucson, Arizona, these retailers and distributors from around the globe were honored as beef leaders. The retailers and distributors gathered with family Angus cattle ranchers to nurture their focus on delivering premium beef.
“We are proud to partner with these companies and congratulate their ongoing successes,” says John Stika, the beef brand’s President. “Every time they recommend the Certified Angus Beef brand, they embrace our family ranching heritage and dedication to quality from farm to table.”
Giant Eagle, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, earned the retailer of the year award. Through its focus on bringing top-quality beef to customers, Giant Eagle held a store-wide grilling event and featured roasts for the holidays. Promotions included social media, targeted e-mails and weekly recipes. Stores offer beef that’s cut fresh in-store, as well as specialty burgers, beef kabobs and Certified Angus Beef brand prime cuts. Circular features also included buy-one, get-one opportunities. Giant Eagle’s focus on premium beef earned loyal customers and the top retail sales volume increase award.
Price Chopper and Market 32, based in Schenectady, New York, earned the award for retail marketer of the year for a large chain. Creative promotions year-round feature the Certified Angus Beef brand, which anchors the meat case at all Price Chopper and Market 32 stores. For example, the summer grilling promotion included in-store, print, television and radio promotions leading customers to the meat case, where their beef can be cut to order. Collaboration between the meat team, marketing team and the brand’s staff also introduced top-quality ground beef, helping Price Chopper to also receive a top five sales volume large-chain retailer award.
Foodland Super Markets, in Hawaii, was named the retail marketer of the year for a small chain. The retailer developed comprehensive marketing programs that made the Certified Angus Beef brand the focal point of the meat case and front-page features. Meat department staff were trained to approach customers to discuss beef cuts and meal solutions, which aligned with a campaign inviting customers to meet Foodland’s in-house beef experts. Radio ads, coupons and social media also added sales, which led to a top five sales volume small-chain retailer award.
Meijer, Grand Rapids, Michigan, was named the retail value-added products marketer of the year. Meijer is an innovator in offering Certified Angus Beef brand products in all categories: fresh meats, convenience items, frozen foods and deli meats. The retailer regularly features them in the circular, store signage, advertising and social media. Training programs for meat department staff provide customers with meal solutions.
Reasor’s in Tulsa, Oklahoma, received the retail brand extension marketer of the year award. Stores offer a selection of premium fresh cuts, including Certified Angus Beef brand prime and some dry-aged steaks. Deli and convenience meats also give customers more options for mealtime. Informed meat staff help customers choose beef cuts. Videos with cooking tips and the semi-annual “fill your freezer” sales also help customers enjoy great-tasting beef year-round.
DeMoulas Market Basket, Tewksbury, Massachusetts, was named the retail rising star. Custom marketing materials throughout stores and monthly cooking demonstrations with coupons and recipes lead customers to the meat case. DeMoulas has also been offering a wider selection of fresh beef cuts since introducing Certified Angus Beef brand products two years ago.
Hays Supermarkets, Wynne, Arkansas, received the retail rookie of the year award for its year-long focus on introducing Certified Angus Beef brand products to customers. Throughout the year, Hays stores featured the brand in promotions and focused on offering ground beef to shoppers as a quality advantage in the market.
Centro Cuesta Nacional in the Dominican Republic was recognized as the international retail marketer of the year. The single-store retailer uses a comprehensive marketing plan to offer a wide selection of Certified Angus Beef brand cuts. Billboards, print advertising in major publications, social media and in-store promotions explain beef quality and lead customers to the meat case.
Foster Farms’ board of directors has appointed Laura Flanagan President and Chief Executive Officer effective August 29, 2016.
Flanagan, 48, most recently served as president of the ConAgra Foods Snacks Division, one of North America’s leading suppliers of packaged foods. She will succeed Ron Foster, grandson of company founders Max and Verda Foster, as Foster Farms’ president and CEO. Foster previously announced his plans to step down. He will remain a Foster Farms Owner and Member of the board of directors.
“The board unanimously selected Laura Flanagan as the ideal executive to guide Foster Farms during a time of significant growth,” said Foster. “She has an impressive record of transforming and growing household consumer brands across an ever-shifting landscape. We are confident that her strategic approach will lead Foster Farms to new heights within the U.S. meat and poultry industry.”
Before taking leadership of the Snacks Division, Flanagan served as president of ConAgra’s Convenient Meals Division from 2008 to 2011, revitalizing and expanding key brands. She also led initiatives to promote diversity, develop internal talent, and build skills and capabilities throughout ConAgra.
“Foster Farms is a strong competitor in the national poultry landscape in large part because of its family-owned roots and its steadfast commitment to truly locally grown, fresh poultry,” said Flanagan. “I intend to honor the Foster family’s legacy for excellence while growing the business, guiding our dedicated employees and maintaining the trust of a new generation of consumers who care deeply about the food they feed their families, especially organic and antibiotic-free poultry choices.”
Before joining ConAgra, Flanagan served as vice president and chief marketing officer of Tropicana Shelf Stable Juices at PepsiCo and, from 1996 to 2005, held brand-management positions at General Mills and PepsiCo. Earlier, she was a manufacturing engineer at Saturn Corporation. She earned an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1996.
Flanagan currently serves on the board of directors at Core-Mark International, one of North America’s largest marketers of fresh and broad-line supply solutions to the convenience retail industry.
Under Ron Foster’s leadership, the company grew by 70 percent and became the nation’s first major poultry producer to be certified by the American Humane Association. In June, Foster Farms was selected as the 2016 Processor of the Year by The National Provisioner for industry-leading achievements in food safety, water conservation and product diversity. While Ron Foster led the company, it raised the National Thanksgiving Turkey for the White House on two occasions, became the No. 1 brand of frozen cooked chicken in the western U.S., and became the largest producer of organic and antibiotic-free fresh chicken on the West Coast.
Not only are charcuterie boards easy to prepare , they work for every season. Whether a spring brunch, a summer pool party, or the ever-busy winter holidays , they are always a great option for entertaining.
Sometimes building a charcuterie board can be a bit intimidating. Where do you start? Columbus makes it easier for you with its Charcuterie Sampler, which provides a variety of four delicious salami : Calabrese, Genoa, Italian Dry and Sopressata. These four styles give diverse flavor profiles that range from a slow mild heat to fresh garlic and even hints of fennel. Both the Italian Dry and Sopressata are a thicker cut, creating a mouth-feel akin to a hand-cut slice (without the work!). All you need to do is add some accompaniments . The key is variety and balance with a focus on foods that complement each other without overwhelming the palate.
Calabrese is a zesty salame made with red bell peppers. Enjoy it with a hard cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano. Wash it down with an IPA or a Syrah.
Genoa is a mild salame seasoned with wine and garlic. Add a softer cheese, like fontina or fresh goat cheese for a different texture. They go well with a chilled Sauvignon Blanc or Pilsner.
Italian Dry is the company’s San Francisco classic salame that pairs well with a hard sheep-milk cheese like pecorino romano. This combination works well with Pinot Noirs, Pilsners and Pale Ales.
Sopressata brings flavors of sweet fennel and chili pepper. Combine with a harder cow cheese like grana padano. Savor it with a glass of Pinot Grigio.
You can also include other delicious cured meats like prosciutto or coppa to your board. Here are some other suggestions for your mouth-watering charcuterie platter:
That’s it! Just start with the best craft meats, include complementary cheese, breads and spreads that provide different textures and flavors, pop open bottles of wine and beer, and enjoy the gathering.
Organic Prairie, the brand of organic meats produced by the same farmer-owned co-op as Organic Valley, has introduced Mighty Beef Jerky, made from organic, 100 percent grass-fed beef. Available in Teriyaki, Original and Peppered flavors, these organic beef snacks deliver big, ready-to-eat flavor without worrisome additives. Many consumers today are looking for a quick protein snack, and Mighty Jerky is a sophisticated, savory flavor choice with an ingredient list that’s simple and clean: Mighty snacks are always organic and never contain GMOs, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, or artificial fillers.
Like Mighty Bar, launched in the summer of 2015, each paleo-friendly serving of Mighty Jerky contains 12 grams of gluten-free, nut-free, non-GMO, 100 percent grass-fed, organic protein. Mighty Jerky has a toothsome texture thanks to a touch of honey, which also improves shelf stability.
A Mighty opportunity for you!
Today, meat bars and jerky are no longer exclusively for the hunting and fishing crowd on a munchie run at the gas station. Next-generation meat snacks are for anyone seeking a healthy, protein-rich, low glycemic snack. Just so, a quality organic option was lacking—until the introduction of Mighty Bar and now Mighty Jerky.
“Having a busy lifestyle no longer means you have to sacrifice quality or nutrition when you want a quick snack,” says Eric Newman, Organic Prairie CEO. “Mighty Bar and Mighty Jerky are USDA Certified Organic, and they’re made with 100 percent grass-fed beef. So these snacks are delicious, nutritious, and simple the way nature intended.
The suggested retail price per two-ounce package of Mighty Jerky is $6.99.
By Lorrie Baumann
La Pasta’s Radicchio, Parsnip & Apricot Ravioli has won the 2016 sofi Award for Best New Product. Radicchio is sauteed with a little bit of balsamic vinegar to bring out the sweetness of the vegetables and then folded into ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella cheese together with roasted parsnips and dried apricots. The filling is then enclosed in La Pasta’s signature pasta with black pepper pasta stripes.
“We got lucky. It happens,” said Alexis Konownitzine, President of La Pasta, “Our chef Kristen made the product and will be at the Fancy Food Show.”
La Pasta already had several sofi Awards for products including its Marinara Sauce and Beet, Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese Ravioli. This year’s winner was selected from among 23 finalists in the Best New Product category by the sofi judging panel of culinary experts in a blind tasting. Overall, 28 products were named winners and 100 named finalists from among 3,200 entries this year.
This year’s judging diverged from the methodology used for the past couple of years, in that the judging was completed before the Summer Fancy Food Show and winners were named at the same time as finalists. This process was designed to make the judging more fair and transparent, according to the Specialty Food Association, which owns the sofi Awards program. The products were judged by criteria that awarded 70 percent of the product’s score for taste, which included flavor, appearance, texture and aroma and 30 percent for ingredient quality, which included a consideration of whether any of the product’s ingredients were artificial and whether they were combined in a creative or unexpected way. One winner was chosen in each of the 28 judging categories, and the top 4 percent of the entries in each category were named finalists. No awards were presented this year in classic, foodservice or product line categories, which were part of last year’s contest.
Finalists for the Best New Product award included Dalmatia Sour Cherry Spread from Atalanta Corporation, Jansal Valley Boneless Prosciutto Toscano D.O.P. from Sid Wainer and Son Specialty Produce and Specialty Food, Organic Stoneground Flakes Cereal — Purple Corn from Back to the Roots and Sliced Prosciutto (Domestic) from Creminelli Fine Meats. “Prosciutto is everywhere in the U.S., but we do it differently, using whole-muscle Duroc pork that’s 100 percent vegetarian-fed with no antibiotics ever. We layer it in the tray by hand instead of by machine,” said Kyle Svete, Creminelli Fine Meats’ Director of Sales for National Accounts. “We invest in people, not machines. It’s part of who we are – people, animal, craft…. We have machines to help us do our job, but it’s really about the people. The recyclable tray and the elegant look of it elevates the product and the category.”
“We’re proud of it. We put the ingredients right on the front of the label,” he added. “That’s all there is to it – time, love, pork and sea salt.”
Chocolate-covered Cocomels – 5 Salts from JJ’s Sweets, Gourmet Honey Spread: Salted Honey from Cloister Honey LLC, Wild Boar Salted Star Anise Single Origin Organic Dark Chocolate Bar from Hagensborg Chocolate Ltd., Original Tangerine Sriracha from Just Jan’s Inc., Mr. Hot Stuff Pepper Spread from Steppin’ Out LLC, Clementine Crush Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Enzo Olive Oil Company/P-R Farms, Inc. and Deschutes Brewery® Black Butte Porter Truffle from Moonstruck Chocolate, Co. were also among the finalists for the Best New Product Award.
Other finalists were Pineapple Habanero Caramel from JulieAnn Caramels, Frozen Passion Chia Lassi from Monsieur Singh LLC, Chicken Fat (Schmaltz) Premium Cooking Oil from Fatworks LLC, Avocado Oil Mayo and Licorice Mint Tea from Chosen Foods, Inc., Chili Crunch Bar from Vivra Chocolate, Vegan Stone Ground Hazelnut Butter from Karmalize LLC, Raspberry Amaretto Preserves from Robert Rothschild Farm, Orange Artisan Fruit Cracker from Simple & Crisp, Gluten-Free Coffee Brownie from Savvy Girl Baking Company and Dark Moon from Marin French Cheese Company.
In the remaining categories, Brussizzle Sprouts from Pacific Pickle Works, Inc. was named the best appetizer. The Spice Hunter, Inc.‘s Coriander Lime Global Fusion Rub was named best baking ingredient, baking mix or flavor enhancer, Ginger Hemp Granola from Michele’s Granola LLC was the best in the category for breads, muffins, granola or cereal, and Vermont Creamery‘s Bijou was judged the best cheese. Vermont Creamery’s Bonne Bouche was a finalist for the award both this year and last year.
Money on Honey by Droga Chocolates won the sofi in the chocolate category, and Bittermilk LLC‘s No. 3 Smoked Honey Whiskey Sour won the award in the cold beverage category. Bittermilk was a sofi finalist last year with the same product. Non-GMO Salted Caramelized Fig Spread from King’s Cupboard was named the best condiment, and Sea Salt & Vanilla Farmstead Goat Milk Caramels from Big Picture Farm LLC received the award for the best confection. Big Picture Farm won sofi Awards last year for best new product with its Raspberry Rhubarb Goat Milk Caramels and for best confection with its Goat Milk Chai Caramels. Moon Dance Baking‘s Holly Baking Cookie Brittle Cinnamon & Spice was named in the category for cookies, brownies, cakes or pie.
Barnier Pimento Sauce with Preserved Lemon from FoodMatch Inc. was named best cooking, dipping or finishing sauce. Cranberry Pistachio “The Original” from Jan’s Farmhouse Crisps was named the best cracker. Epicurean Butter‘s Organic Cocoa Coconut Butter was named in the category for best dairy or dairy alternative product. “The reason this is something really new and innovative is that this is organic pasteurized cream, organic coconut oil, organic honey, organic canola oil, organic cocoa powder and Himalayan pink salt. It’s good on crepes, pancakes French toast. We actually just love it on a baguette,” said Janey Hubschman, who co-founded Epicurean Butter with her husband John, who’s the chef and still does all the formulations for the company’s products. “It’s got a lovely mouth feel with the butter and the coconut oil and then the finish of the salt.” The Organic Cocoa Coconut Butter is part of a product line that includes 13 finishing butters, of which two are organic. The company has just installed new equipment in its plant that allows Epicurean Butter to produce single-serve squeeze packs. Each of those has 190 calories for a 1-ounce serving, and Hubschman expects that the single-serve packaging will draw a lot of interest from the producers of home-delivered meal kits.
Bourbon Matured Maple Syrup from BLiS LLC was named the best dessert sauce, topping or syrup. Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate‘s Single Origin Drinking Chocolate 72% Belize, Toledo received the sofi Award for the best hot beverage. Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate was a finalist in the chocolate category last year with its 72% Madagascar, Sambirano bar. The Gelato Fiasco‘s Ripe Mango Sorbetto was named the best ice cream, gelato or frozen treat.
Cioccomiel, a spread made from hazelnuts, cocoa and honey, won the sofi Award for the best jam, preserve, honey or nut butter. It is imported by Marcelli Formaggi LLC.
Fermín Chorizo Ibérico Picante / Fermín Ibérico Pork Dry-Cured Chorizo Sausage Spicy from Fermin USA was named the best meat, pate or seafood.
Stöger Organic Austrian Pumpkin Seed Oil was named the best oil. It is imported by Los Chileros, which won a finalist award last year for the same product.
Gustiamo, Inc.‘s Pianogrillo Sicilian Cherry Tomato Sauce took home the sofi Award for the best pasta sauce, while the best pasta was Pastifico Artigianale Leonardo Carassai, made in Campofilone, Italy, and imported by Bravo International Inc.
Wozz! Kitchen Creations, which won the 2015 sofi Award for best salsa or dip with its Kiwi Lime Salsa Verde takes home the gold in the salad dressing category this year with North African Chermoula Dressing. This year’s award in the salsa or dip category went to American Spoon Foods’ Pumpkin Seed Salsa.
Hickory Smoked Spicy Candied Bacon from Little Red Dot Kitchen LLC won the sofi Award this year in the category for savory snacks. The best sweet snack came from Creative Snacks Co. with its Organic Coconut Bites.
Dinner Tonight Black Bean Tortilla Chili Mix from Backyard Safari Company won the award for best soup, stew, bean or chili. ParmCrisps Mini Aged Parmesan Crisps from Kitchen Table Bakers won the award for the best vegan or gluten-free product. Kitchen Table Bakers was a finalist last year for its Jalapeno Parmesan Crisps. Finally, this year’s best vinegar was Balsamic Nectar from Boulder Flavours.
Rogers Collection has added GOLFERA Italian mortadella and GOLFERA Braceri (grilled/cooked ham with herbs) to its catalog. These products are now available for the first time ever in the U.S. market at select specialty retail shops across the country. Representatives from GOLFERA, a family owned and operated company, will kick off their official entry to the U.S. marketplace at Rogers Collection’s booth during the June 2016 Summer Fancy Food Show in New York.
Rogers Collection is importing three types of GOLFERA mortadella: with and without pistachio, and mortadella with black and white truffle shavings (not oil). Rogers Collection and GOLFERA partnered together based on their shared commitment to high quality standards.
GOLFERA was founded in the early 1960s in the small and ancient village of Lavezzola in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region (near Bologna). Lavezzola has always embodied a long-standing bond between food and landscape and is famous for traditional Italian charcuterie. GOLFERA maintains complete control over their production chain. This starts with animal welfare, humane feeding and breeding and no antibiotic use after the third month of an animal’s life. Each step leading up to the production process, occurs within a few kilometers GOLFERA’s Lavezzola facility resulting in the lowest possible environmental impact. The company sources its pork from a single farm of Italian born pigs to make a dedicated production exclusively for Rogers Collection.
GOLFERA guarantees full cycle traceability and technical production know-how. The mortadellas and cooked hams are made with genuine “clean” labels, meaning free of dairy, gluten, monosodium glutamate, nitrates and nitrites. The mortadella’s pistachios are Sicilican, and the black truffle is from Bologna — both ingredients strictly Italian sourced. Likewise, GOLFERA uses only fresh, high quality cuts of shoulder meat (no tripe or lesser cuts), fat from the neck of the animal, and warm spices to achieve superior taste.
GOLFERA is committed to sustainable production. It draws 100 percent of its electricity needs from renewable sources and has developed eco-friendly packaging with low environmental impact for its products. Each GOLFERA shipment for Rogers Collection is made to order and guaranteed fresh.
Wild Planet Foods is venturing off-sea into the development of land-based food with the launch of its new Organic Roasted Chicken Breast.
Moving from fin to feather, the new Organic Roasted Chicken Breast is the first non-seafood item in Wild Planet’s line. While this is a new category for the company, the addition fits harmoniously with Wild Planet’s mission to provide consumers with food options that are healthful for the body and wildly good for our planet. Wild Planet’s Organic Roasted Chicken Breast features USDA Certified Organic Free-Range Chicken raised on an organic diet — featuring non-GMO corn grown on land that is free of chemicals fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.
“Our new chicken, along with all future land-based items that will follow from Wild Planet Foods, is sourced from organically operated farms— which is essentially the land-based equivalent of pole and line fishing,” said Founder of Wild Planet Foods Bill Carvalho. “At Wild Planet, we believe there is really no difference between being a steward of the land as well as the sea. It’s a known fact that chemical runoff from conventional farming practices has had a negative effect on our waterways which ultimately lead to our oceans — creating dead zones that make it impossible for sea life to survive. Offering products like our new Roasted Chicken Breast not only allows Wild Planet the privilege of supporting and advocating for organic farms and farmers, but it’s also a step towards keeping our waterways and oceans healthy and supportive of a viable, healthy marine environment.”
Wild Planet’s new Organic Roasted Chicken Breast contains only two ingredients — chicken seasoned with sea salt. There is also a no salt added version available. Wild Planet Organic Roasted Chicken Breast provides 40 percent more chicken than other 5-ounce can offerings, due to the fact that only Wild Planet roasts their chicken without the addition of added water, liquids or fillers that are commonly found in other brands. The flavorful, natural juices remain to provide a delicious rotisserie taste. This new Organic Roasted Chicken Breast can be used to make sandwiches, soups, burritos, and is an especially great salad topper.
Wild Planet’s Organic Roasted Chicken is available nationwide in supermarkets and natural food stores for a suggested retail price of $5.49. For more information about Wild Planet Foods, visit their website at www.wildplanetfoods.com.
American Flatbread has expanded its premium line and entered a new product category with three new meat topped pizzas – Pulled Pork & Pineapple, Pulled Pork, Pineapple & Jalapeño and Uncured Pepperoni & Uncured Bacon. These new pizzas are a great alternative to takeout pizza and make delicious, restaurant quality last minute dinners for families on the go.
American Flatbread’s pizzas are premium handmade flatbreads that are wood-fired in earthen ovens and are made with organic and all natural ingredients. They are made with no preservatives, artificial colors or flavors. The flatbreads have a light, crisp and flavorful bite.
Uncured Pepperoni & Uncured Bacon – Crispy bacon and pepperoni with a tangy organic tomato sauce on a handmade flatbread.
Pulled Pork, Pineapple & Jalapeño – Sweet pineapple, fiery jalapeno with smoky pulled pork, barbeque sauce and organic tomato sauce on a handmade flatbread.
Pulled Pork & Pineapple – Sweet pineapple, smoky pulled pork, barbeque and organic tomato sauce on a handmade flatbread.
The pizzas are available in 10-inch and 12-inch. The 10-inch pizzas retail between $6.99 – $7.99 and the 12-inch pizzas retail between $8.99 – $11.99. The new American Flatbread pizzas are available in select retailers across the country.
By Micah Cheek
Jeanie Alderson is trying to solve a puzzle that is still confounding many of the country’s alternative meat producers: Getting her meats from her ranch to customers’ tables. Large meat processors cannot process a small farm’s meats profitably, and small meat processors are in short supply.
“We have the best grass, the best country and the best cattle, but we’re far away from everyone,” says Alderson. The Montana rancher and co-owner of Omega Beef raises grass-fed and –finished wagyu beef, to the tune of 30 to 40 carcasses a year. “The places where big agribusiness is happening, those processors won’t even look at us,” says Alderson. This size of production constitutes a fraction of what a major slaughter house would process in a year, far too little for a larger slaughter house to cut at a profit. The nearest USDA-inspected processor that will work in Omega Beef’s volumes is Quality Meats of Montana, approximately three hours away. This long drive through the Montana steppelands, combined with deliveries after processing, takes a large cut of the company’s profit margin. Unfortunately, slaughtering at an uninspected processor isn’t an option. Going without the USDA stamp would mean losing the business of their retailers, their distributor and any out-of-state customers. “Basically the only people we would be able to sell to would be individual customers in Montana,” says Alderson.
The issue of finding size appropriate processors is not limited to beef. Les Miller, Food Producer at Wheatstem Meadows Farms in South Dakota, has encountered difficulties with pork and chicken as well. Miller has found a pork processor within 50 miles, but the expansion of his business is beginning to push the processor’s capacity. Miller is also raising chickens, but can’t find a facility to slaughter them in. “That’s the problem I’m facing with the broilers,” Miller says. “The closest [processor] I could find was in Minnesota. There’s nothing in South Dakota.” Miller is legally allowed to slaughter chickens in a limited capacity without an inspected facility, but that poultry can’t be sold across state lines. “Under federal law I can do 1,000 [per year], but it still isn’t like the USDA certification,” says Miller.
Groups like the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, a network of agricultural advocacy groups, are involved in changing policies to make access to USDA-inspected facilities more available, but Ferd Hoefner, Policy Director with the NSAC, says the results do not come easily. “A number of farmers, frustrated by this lack of policy, are starting their own processing facilities. How do you get inspectors to these plants? That’s a huge bottleneck,” Hoefner notes. This issue has become a top concern for the National Sustainable Ag Coalition. “With the federal government, most policies are going to become one size fits all,” Hoefner adds. “We’re looking for ways to make the regulatory regime fit.” One such legislative change has allowed select state-certified processors to operate as USDA-approved facilities, increasing the number of processors with the USDA’s stamp of approval.
Another potential answer is the implementation of mobile slaughter units. These are large trailers that are essentially a certified facility on wheels. They are driven out to farms. According to the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network, there are approximately 20 MSUs in operation in the country, operating in 14 states. Hoefner notes that the MSU system is still finding its place in the market. “It’s a little bit too early to tell there,” says Hoefner. “As the market develops, maybe the market will be viable.” MSU’ could be a future key to beef and poultry operations. “I would love for my animals to not have to leave, and end their lives here,” says Alderson.