The Coronavirus pandemic has created many challenges for small processors, but it has created many opportunities as well. As consumers see empty meat cases at grocery stores and hear reports about COVID-19 outbreaks in large meat plants, they may turn to other sources for their protein purchases.
Topics to be discussed include:
- alternative meat sales channels that exist, and how companies in those channels have adapted to increased demand
- expanding a producer customer base, as the shutdowns and reduced operations of the big packing plants have forced farmers to find alternate means to profit from their animals
- finding a new consumer base, as companies that sold to the foodservice industry have to find new customers to replace the restaurants that have shut down or reduced their demand.
Rebecca Thistlethwaite is the Director of the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network (NMPAN), an Extension based community-of-practice serving the niche meat industry and housed at Oregon State University. She has a master's degree in International Agricultural Development from the University of California - Davis and was formerly co-owner of TLC Ranch, a mid-scale organic pastured poultry and livestock enterprise in California. She is also author of two books on farming and provides business and marketing consulting for sustainable farms and food businesses.
Patrick Robinette - while not from a farming family - has worked for over twenty years to make a positive impact on the meat industry. After working on feedlots and ranches in high school and in college, Patrick founded Harris-Robinette Beef in 2000 to provide consumers with high quality and environmentally conscious grass-fed beef. In 2013, Patrick and his wife, Amy Robinette, expanded their operation to include Micro Summit Processors where they can provide farmers with a consistent and high-quality processing facility.
Brad Turasky is an award-winning cured meats processor and the third-generation leader of Y-T Packing/Turasky Meats. The Springfield, Ill.-based business local restaurants and groceries with quality meat products. The retail arm, Turasky Meats, is a meat market that has won many state and national awards for its cured meat items. Brad Turasky is the third generation of his family to run the business that was started by his grandfather, Joe Sr., in 1949. He has served as CEO since 2009. Turasky recent announced construction of a facility for Prairie Sky Snacks, a new venture that will produce meat snacks.