Adding Value to Grassfed Beef Niche Marketing Efforts

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2004: $60,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Cynthia Daley
California State University, Chico

Annual Reports


  • Animals: bovine


  • Education and Training: extension, networking, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, marketing management, market study, value added
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities



    The grassroots efforts by western ranching families to produce an “all natural grass-fed” product have become popular with specific sectors of the consuming public. We support sustainable agriculture practices by enhancing the marketing opportunities of grass-fed beef producers and their families through the training and education of growers and extension personnel on the potential health benefits of grass-fed beef products through workshops, product analysis, label development, refereed and popular press publications and the development and maintenance of an informational website covering a broad range topics pertinent to Niche Marketing in the meat industry.

    Project objectives:

    1.We have and will continue to provide training and education for producers and extension personnel on all aspects of grass-fed beef production through our educational website: Through this website, producers, extension personnel, and consumers can find the following information:

    •Proceedings to the 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 Niche Marketing Conferences covering a broad range of topics, including (but not limited to) Niche Marketing Trends, Niche Marketing Options, Process Verification, Labeling Process and USDA Regulations, Niche Marketing Case Studies, Economics, Business Planning, Meat Processing, Meat Quality Assessments, Food Safety and Feeds to for growth and product quality.

    •Labeling meat products according to USDA guidelines – the easy method. How to create your own label, process verification, FSIS regulations.

    •How to prepare Grass-fed meat products: recipes have been provided for just about every cut.

    •Research – a comprehensive listing of published work in the area of grass-fed meat production in the following areas:
    o Effect of diet on lipid profiles in the final meat product;
    o Health and nutrition literature at it relates to Grass-fed meat
    o Marketing
    o Forages and Performance
    o Carcass quality and consumer taste panels.

    • Producer links and contact information. This section is limited to those producers who personally request a listing.

    2.We have provided training and education for producers and other extension personnel on all aspects of grass-fed meat production through a series of annual Niche Marketing Conferences (2-3 day conference), the proceedings of each conference are posted to the Grass-fed Beef Website. Attendance has ranged between 30-125/day. The composition of the attendees has included producers, alliance and meat cooperative representatives, retailers, processors, extension personnel, students, and academics.

    Based on conference attendee feedback, we are hitting the target with regard to the topics producers are interested in. They find the information useful, however we need to work on improving the value of our written materials and provide more examples of direct applications to Niche Marketing situations, perhaps using case-studies to exemplify concepts.

    2006 Survey – Niche Marketing Conference Poor Fair Good Excellent

    Were you satisfied with the material covered? 0% 4% 57% 39%

    Did the event increase or enhance your knowledge of the subject? 0% 8% 48% 44%

    Do you expect to use what you have gained in this event in your work? 0% 8% 42% 50%

    Were the handouts materials useful to you? 5% 14% 24% 57%

    Conference Overall? 0% 4% 44% 52%

    3. We have completed a review of literature regarding the potential health benefits of grass-fed beef products and have posted this review on our informational website: . This review has been accepted for publication with the Nutrition Journal, and is currently in the revision process. This review will help growers justify “value-added” claims with regard to Omega-3, CLA, and Vitamins A and E (a copy of this review is attached to the final report).

    Data from this project will be presented at the National Grass-fed Conference in Pennsylvania, March 2, 2007.

    4.We have generated a full lipid profile for 7 cooperator herds (see attachments).

    5.We have completed the approval process for a “value-added” nutrition label for a Natural, Grass-fed beef product with an Omega-3 content label. Having been through the process, we can now provide guidance on how this can be done for other producers. We now also understand the pitfalls associated with label submissions, the limitations associated with label meat and poultry and will provide this summary on the website. This information will go out in a popular press article. To date, we have provided support for three producer groups working to generate Omega-3 labeling for their respective grass-fed products following our protocol, we are hopeful that more will benefit from this process as it matures and is promoted through the website and future Niche Marketing Conferences.

    Additional objectives completed beyond project scope.

    1.We have completed laboratory assessment and data analysis to support the claim that grass-fed beef products contain elevated levels of Omega-3 and CLA at all degrees of fatness. This data will provide a peer reviewed publication.

    2.We have completed laboratory assessments and data analysis on the effect of ration on lipid profiles in steers (grain; grain/grass, and grass only). This data will provide a peer reviewed publication.

    3.Unofficial producer taste panel was conducted at the Niche Marketing conference to determine preferences between grass-fed and grain-fed steaks among growers (see attached).

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.