Developing Plans for Sustainable Beef Marketing Strategies
Many beef producers in the United States are experiencing the effects of concentration in the cattle industry through lower market prices. In Oklahoma, where cattle are the number one commodity raised in the state, ranchers are looking for alternative ways to market their cattle. However, most ranchers do not have the time, expertise and network to develop organizational and relational plans to market their beef.
The goal of this project is to explore the feasibility of linking a producer retained-ownership program with small independent packers to market quality natural beef products within Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas and to review the effects of agricultural policy on the participants in this process. Using a whole systems approach, the priority area will be to research the feasibility of producers marketing their beef products directly to the consumer using a cooperative network of producers and packers. Sharing information, marketing channels and marketing duties will allow producers the opportunity to realize more on-farm income.
The research objectives are:
1) develop a beef producer survey to investigate producer interests in being linked with packers and exploring value added marketing strategies;
2) develop a survey that will be distributed to small independent Oklahoma beef packers to investigate characteristics of packer operations, their interest in being linked with producers, and equipment needs to provide retail packaging;
3) obtain information and expertise from the Oklahoma State University Food and Agricultural Products Research and Technology Center on collaborative value added natural beef marketing strategies;
4) design and distribute a pretest market survey, perform test market research for value added natural beef products by developing and distributing an in-store survey to a sample size of 400 consumers;
5) analyze government policies and programs that effect the feasibility of linking beef producers and packers with consumers; and
6) hold regional state focus group meetings in each quadrant of the state, and conduct producer and packer group sessions to develop producer networks to be linked with participating packers.
Parts of objectives that have been completed to date include distribution and receipt of the producer and processor surveys. The results are in the process of being calculated at the OSU Food and Agricultural Research and Technology Center. In addition, we are in the process of obtaining value added marketing information from OSU, distributing the consumer test market survey, and analyzing government policies and programs that may negatively impact the linkage of beef producers and packers with consumers. In March, 2001, the Kerr Center will be holding state focus group meetings to discuss the possibility of linking producer networks with small packers.
The project holds the potential to positively effect the economics of the region’s rural ranching areas by assessing and providing information necessary to begin pilot regional natural beef marketing cooperatives, alliances, or other forms of networks. The information gleaned from the planning stage will be used as vital information in the formation of networks of producers and packers dedicated to providing sustainably grown beef directly to consumers. Consumers will gain an awareness of the various types of beef production and become a closer link to ranchers.