Producers can market their beef directly to customers in a variety of ways, sometimes for higher profits

With the local food movement securely in place in the Ozarks, many producers are going directly to consumers with their beef, through farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture programs, off-the-farm sales or through whole or half beef sales.

Direct marketing allows producers to get a higher price for the product they worked to raise and allows them to build a solid relationship with their clients that often leads to repeat sales and referrals.

What Do Consumers Want?

Understanding consumer preferences in your area will help ensure direct marketing success.

“Do not assume that your customer wants what you want,” Dr. Bryon Wiegand with the University of Missouri said.

Ask questions at the local farmers market, visit with chefs at local restaurants and with your extension office professionals, or reach out to customers though social media.

Where to Sell?

There are several options for direct marketing beef, and producers are only limited by their imagination.

Farmers markets are common avenues for direct marketing. Be sure to check with the market manager about health department regulations during the application process, as each town or city has different requirements. If you go this route, be prepared to practice your public speaking skills.

“Most consumers move quickly through the market and need quick and concise information without the ‘total sales pitch,’” Wiegand said.

If you live near an area with farm to table dining, restaurant sales are another good option to move a lot of meat. Restaurant prices are typically wholesale, so while they are not as profitable per pound as selling to a consumer at a market or off the farm, selling to restaurants and developing a relationship with the chef can create consistent income, where as farmers market sales can sometimes fluctuate.

Off-the-farm sales are quite beneficial since sales can be made without having to leave the farm to go into town. Beef can be sold right out of the freezer, or producers can take orders for whole, half or quarter beef, where the producer raises the animal and then the consumer pays for the processing fees, plus a set amount per pound to the producer.

What is Required?

To sell beef directly to consumers through a farmers market, off the farm sales of packaged beef, or to sell to restaurants, beef, and other meat, must be USDA inspected at an approved processing facility.

Talk to your local processor about their inspection process. If you are selling whole or half beef “on the hoof” where the consumer pays the processor, “processing does not necessarily need done at a USDA inspected facility, Wiegand said.


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