Study examines three retail meat opportunities for producers


More than two years after the sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the direct-to-consumer meat market continues to thrive.

In response to food-related supply chain disruptions in the early months of the pandemic, consumers looked beyond traditional grocery stores to find meat products. In some cases, buyers have turned to local farmers to fill this void.

“The disruptions resulting from the pandemic have further increased consumer demand and interest in locally produced meats,” says Tony Banks, senior deputy director of agriculture, development and innovation for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. . “This increased demand presents a unique opportunity for farmers to expand their retail sales of meat products directly to consumers. And, due to supply chain disruptions, Congress and the US Department of Agriculture have launched new initiatives to improve meat and poultry processing capacity. among small and medium enterprises with the aim of improving supply chain resilience.”

Despite proposals being put in place to help increase capacity, meat processing continues to be heavily regulated due to safety concerns with handling raw meat and poultry. These regulations can create obstacles for farmers in the direct marketing of their meat.

To identify barriers and help farmers learn the requirements for selling processed meat, the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture, Innovation and Rural Sustainability conducted a retail meat sales study.

The study looked at three retail formats (farmers’ markets or roadside stands, on-farm shops and on-farm butchers) and identified the permits and regulations required for each. The study also serves as a guide for farmers and other interested parties to consider the logistics of operating a retail business.

“All three models have the potential to be profitable,” Banks says. “However, each model has its own unique opportunities and challenges, and all require access to a skilled workforce, a reliable and steady supply of meat or poultry, and a strong commitment to marketing.”

Meat processing is capital-intensive, so interested Virginia farmers can partner with their local government to apply for grants from the Governor’s Agricultural and Forestry Industries Development Fund. Grant funding can be leveraged to build new processing facilities, expand existing facilities, or plan and establish retail facilities, Banks says.

Virginia Governor Glenn Younkin announced March 10 that Madison County’s Hidden Pines Meat Processing LLC had received a $40,000 AFID grant to expand operations to meet “increasing consumer demand for meats produced locally”. The grant is expected to allow the company to increase its processing volume to more than 1,100 locally raised cattle, goats, pigs and lambs each year.

“The pandemic has presented many challenges to Virginia’s farming community. This is especially true for livestock producers whose livelihoods depend on the ability to process and sell their animals locally,” the secretary said. Virginia Agriculture and Forestry, Matthew Lohr. “By making strategic investments like this to help build the meat processing capacity of the Commonwealth, we are creating important new market opportunities for our farmers, as well as local options for our consumers.”

Source: Virginia Farm Bureau, which is solely responsible for and owns the information provided. Informa Business Media and all of its affiliates are not responsible for any content contained in this information asset.


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