The fall is often one of the busiest times of the year for wild game processors. Many are not only processing wild game, but also preparing for the hectic rush of the holiday season that is not far behind. While it may be one of the busiest times of the year, it can also be one of the most profitable.
Factors affecting profit
A profitable wild game season goes a long way in sustaining a business for the year. There are a number of factors that come into play that can affect the success and profitability of wild game season in a state, such as the population of animals in an area. Illnesses like chronic wasting disease or blue tongue are also a cause for concern with wild game. How many hunters are buying licenses? Is the weather favorable for decent hunting, or is it miserable and keeping people out of the field? These are only a few of the issues that can affect the amount of game product that arrives through plant doors to be processed. With these issues being out of the processor’s control, it is imperative to try and make each animal product as profitable as possible. It is a well-known fact that the best profit comes from further processed game meat. The greatest profit is not made in skinning, cutting and wrapping, but rather in turning that wild game meat into processed products using the best sausage, stick, or jerky recipes.
Offer a variety of products
Hunters are always on the lookout for new products to try. Depending on how the hunter harvested and cared for the meat, the taste can be very gamey and not well received as steaks and roasts. Give customers a choice of flavorsome products that they can bring home for the whole family to enjoy. If the family enjoys these, chances are the hunter will be more likely to buy additional products the next time around. Hunters are particular about how they receive their meat back after processing; however, to be truly profitable, do these products in batch groups. Another suggestion is to require enough meat to make a batch for a single hunter. It is difficult to be profitable only doing 20lb. batches.
Success in batch processing
Some of the most successful wild game processors within AAMP are processing their products in large size batches with meat from multiple hunters’ orders. While hunters may be resistant to this method at first, there are things you can do that will convince them otherwise. One suggestion is to implement and enforce a strict policy on the quality of game animal to be processed in the facility. When game animals are rejected due to their poor quality, hunters will have more confidence in having their meat mixed with other batches at that particular facility. Do not compromise your business by doing favors and processing a questionable animal. As new products are being created, do time studies to ensure that it is profitable and enough is being charged. A higher price can be charged for high-quality work. Customers may balk at the price at first, but they will more than likely to return when they see and taste the difference.
Offer samples of products
It is not too late in the year to put out new products. Be sure to provide plenty of samples to hunters when they drop off their animal and place their order; this is an ideal time to sell them on a new product. There is a reason big wholesale chain stores give out food samples on their busiest days; samples sell products that consumers were not intending to buy.
If you need some ideas on processing tips or products, contact some of the AAMP members that are known for their game processing and ask them questions. Fellow members are always willing to share. If you need suggestions, feel free to contact me and ask for me for recommendations. Good luck this season! May you be busy and profitable! IP