The great restart, the post-pandemic adjustment — or whatever one might call it — has begun. Companies that managed to stay the course as best as they could during the COVID-19 pandemic now appear ready to pounce on serious opportunities, and Panorama Meats (owned by Perdue Premium Meat Co., or PPMC) has taken its place in that line.
By August 2020, the pandemic was well-entrenched as a part of day-to-day business, and many in the industry knew by then that they could not rest on their laurels and simply ride out the storm. Adjustments had been made, and “business as usual” transformed into “the new normal” — even if what was new was constant change.
For its part, PPMC, owner of the Niman Ranch, Coleman Natural Foods and the aforementioned Panorama Meats (among other divisions and brands), worked its way through the pandemic without having to abandon its core strategies. However, the tinkering and strategizing within the confines of Panorama Meats seems to have produced a division and brand ready to make serious waves in the grass-fed organic marketplace.
In September 2020, PPMC made a strategic leadership move in naming Kay Cornelius the new general manager of Panorama Meats, the first step toward opening new markets and distribution avenues for the traditionally regional grass-finished organic beef brand.
“With organic and grass-fed beef, there’s a high demand for case-ready product,” Cornelius explains. “So, one of the things we worked on immediately was getting our case-ready product in the Midwest markets, and we opened up a Midwest distribution plant in March .”
Expanding from what had been a California-centric distribution model quickly paid dividends, Cornelius adds, with Panorama Meats now available in 21 different retailers (at presstime). The eastbound growth has been made easier under the PPMC umbrella.
“One of the beauties of being part of Perdue Premium Meat Co. is that our brother and sister companies don't have organic, so we can be that organic solution for them,” she says. “We can tell customers in Ohio or Maine out east, ‘You should consider organic, and we can make it easy for you to get because your Panorama organic product will ride on the same trucks as your Niman Ranch or Coleman product,’ which gives us a leg up.”
Panorama Meats also has been expanding its ranch network in the direction of the Atlantic; Cornelius points out that the brand now has ranches in eight states outside California. All this growth will keep retailers happy, but it will also help Panorama capitalize on opportunities as the foodservice industry finds its way back to normalcy in the post-pandemic world.
“We can help chefs tell a great story around the organic, grass-fed beef and the conservation ranching program we started with Audubon, all with cuts that are really well-suited to chefs who want something truly unique to drive consumers through their doors,” Cornelius explains. “There’s tremendous demand for organic and grass-fed beef, and we’re filling a vacuum because there’s very little organic, U.S. beef [supply] except for Panorama Meats.”
Within the last year, Panorama Meats has also entered the e-commerce supply chain with its frozen product — and answered consumer product demand by launching a Panorama Meats-branded hot dogs, sausages and meatballs — all convenience items that aren’t abundant offerings on the grass-fed product shelves in sizable quantities.
“There’s demand and a need for those products in the marketplace,” Cornelius says. “Our best-selling item is ground beef, but the consumer may not have time to form, season and cook it before serving it to his or her family, so we believe these convenience items are right on trend.”
She adds that Panorama Meats has more convenience items in the product development pipeline today and expects to have those launching within the next year. Those include two seasoned, case-ready steak items scheduled to hit store shelves and e-commerce in the coming months.
“We’re doing those in case-ready, so you just open the package and put the steak in the pan or on the grill, and it’s pretty easy,” Cornelius says. “We’re making one flavor a more classic, traditional variety, and the other is kind of adventurous for consumers who really want to try something different.”
Additionally, Panorama Meats is exploring its place in the blended proteins marketplace for a customer interested in blending Panorama’s high-quality protein with vegetables to produce an item with a smaller environmental footprint.
Looking at the bigger picture, Panorama Meats will continue to work to satisfy consumers who crave grass-fed organic beef that is born and raised in the U.S., as well as expand and support its network of ranchers, the primary caretakers of the approximately 1 million acres of grassland Panorama Meats has under organic certification.
“Our goal is to double that acreage in 10 years and also tell the story about our organic land practices, soil regeneration and the National Audubon Society’s Conservation Ranching initiative we’ve begun,” Cornelius says. “We'll do everything we can within the four pillars we stand by, which we set last year: nourishing people, humane animal handling, organic land stewardship, and creating thriving ranching communities.”
Meanwhile, building on 20 years’ experience working for Niman Ranch, Coleman and Panorama, as well as being a rancher herself, Cornelius believes she and her team have a formula that works, so long as the company stays true to its core principles.
“We’ll continue to work to give ranchers a path for success, and to give our environment a healthier chance, particularly against climate change,” Cornelius says. “We’ll continue to build grass-fed, organic supply, knowing the demand will be there as long as we are true to our pillars and values, which are things we will never compromise.”
With the wider distribution reach and the number of ranchers in new regions interested in the Panorama perspective on ranching, Panorama Meats appears poised to cook up some serious disruption as it carves out its space in the beef landscape.