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How to Direct Market Your Beef and Lamb as a Producer

22 June 2015

Increasing market volatility is seeing graziers look at ways to sell their own beef and lamb, removing middle-men out of the equation and setting the prices themselves.

Colorado sheep producer Andrew Schafer gives his account of what makes direct marketing work. 

Direct Marketing: From a Rambouillet Standpoint

As farmers markets get ramped up across the nation, this very summer may the perfect time to consider direct marketing your lamb or beef, writes Mr Schafer.

If you have ever wondered if selling your product cut and wrapped to the general public could work for your farm, there are a few considerations that should take place.

Brag About Breed and System

Variety and differentiation are the name of the game. For some, the product differentiation may come as a varied management style. This could include grass fed, grass finished or even feeding distiller grains from the local brewery. Any local co-product that is accessible should be considered for use. The selection of breed may be an option for differentiation.

Differentiate your product, advises Andrew. This could be by the system in which it is reared, how its prepared or the cut itself

Our local region sees premiums paid for Navajo Churro lamb and Scottish Highland beef. An old timer once told me “Pick a breed and brag about it” looking back on this I realize this not only applies to the breed but the management system. All breeds and management systems have their merits. What works best for your operation is what should be elected for use.

Consider Cuts

Differentiated cuts of meat are another strategic approach to attract customers. While many vendors will be offering ground beef and T-bones and roasts your local butcher may have the ability to provide cuts that are not only less common but also trendy in the foodie realm.

The Flat Iron steak is a true success story in this regard. Coming from the chuck this flavourful and versatile steak has become the go to when a little variety is needed for the menu.

The Hanger, a once forgotten scrap, is now centre stage in posh dining. Offering these kinds of steaks can not only set your operation apart but also glean additional revenue from turning lower valued cuts into higher valued cuts.

Add Value: Secret Recipes Anyone?

Lamb cut innovation hasn’t moved as far along in the recent past. Other considerations such as value added products should be included in your offering. These could include pre-seasoned roasts, bratwurst, breakfast or Italian sausage. Once again this is a great opportunity to tell your story. If you offer taste profiles that go hand in hand with the story or message you convey, it is only beneficial to your program. Eastern or southwestern flavours tend to be big sellers.

Additionally if your family has a secret recipe that has been passed down for generations, it would be recommended to share this great traditional flavour with the public. If you know a local herb grower this could be a great way to cooperate and utilize their product in your product where both farms can reap the benefits of promotion.

Don't Be Afraid to Tell YOUR STORY

Differentiating your farm is the biggest component to success. Consider product mix, do you have other goods that can be direct marketed? If so do they complement your meat sales?

Although this is not necessary, it can be beneficial to have a variety of products to draw in potential customers. Telling your story is the biggest component for success. Your customers will want to know about you, your operation and why what it is that you do is so awesome. Never be afraid to tell this story.

Consistency is Key

Building and maintaining a particular reputation is helpful in providing customers a consistent experience. One of this biggest selling points for large brand retailers is matching the customer’s expectation of their last trip to this store.

This mindset doesn’t change when it comes to direct meat sales either. Offering roasts one week and burger the next week can leave customers searching for someone else who can supply a consistent supply of exactly what they want.

A simple competition analysis should be performed prior to diving into a new venture or marketing strategy. Go to your next local farmers market and evaluate what current vendors are selling. By strategically differentiating your operation, the odds stand in your favour that you too can be successful.

Shafer Sheep

Andrew is a board member on the American Rambouillet Sheep Breeders Association and is involved with the National Sheep Improvement Programme.

TheSheepSite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock

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