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Direct marketing beef

If you're willing to work hard, try selling beef to customers directly from the farm

You’ve got a small cattle herd and would like to sell the meat to customers. Direct marketing your own beef eliminates the middleman and in theory returns more profit. But, it’s a lot of work. You’ll do your own research and development, be the advertising agency, the CEO, and work with a USDA-certified meat processor.

Gregg Rentfrow is an Extension meat specialist at the University of Kentucky. He says finding a market is a challenge in-itself, so in the beginning keep it simple by just telling your story.

"The ribeye steak that comes with it is just a bonus," he says. "They’re buying a story that you’re a family farm, that your kids are involved in 4-H, that your oldest son is the president of the local FFA chapter, the farm has been in the family for two or three generations, that’s what people are buying, is the story."

Your product will demand a higher price because you don’t have the same economies of scale as a large meat packer. Rentfrow says to look at the beef prices at your local grocery store, and plan on adding about 30% to that.

Customers like buying local and will pay premium for steaks but usually not for ground beef and roast. One strategy is to sell meat bundles.

"A $50 bundle has so many steaks in it, so many roasts, and so many pounds of ground beef in there. That way, you’re not stuck with 400 lbs. of round roast and chuck roast, and I’ve got 600 lbs. of ground beef that nobody’s going to buy at a premium. So, you do one of two things," says Rentfrow. "You either sell it at a discount so you can get rid of it, or everybody’s eating hamburgers and roast for dinner for the next few months."

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