When people ask me how we can save them ~ 30% over buying grassfed beef at the grocery store while getting a higher quality product I have a short answer and a long answer.
Here is the short answer:
When you buy from the grocery store you are paying for the convenience of choosing an individual cut of meat and for shelf space...and they charge you A LOT for that option.
Here is the long answer:
I remember looking over all the cuts in the meat case with my mom when I was a little guy looking for the orange “managers special” sticker on the beef that meant these steaks were half off their original price. We were always trying to budget ‘cause you know, times weren’t great financially for us, so we got the discount beef. I thought it was fantastic because it meant that I got to eat ribeyes which were my favorite, and we felt like kings and queens at home. Those are good memories, however, I had no idea the economics and supply management that was underlying that sticker and our slightly brown and almost expired steak we were taking home.
Most of us are comfortable purchasing meat at the meat counter at the grocery store. It’s what we have always done, and so we are familiar with that pricing, that behavior, that convenience. While we understand the ideas of wholesale vs. retail I don’t think we often consider it in the context of buying grassfed and healthy beef. Whether we want to think about it or not, it is a force that is enacting on us and our wallets and our ying yangs. Here is why.
Let say an average cow has about 400 pounds of sellable beef that comes in 1.3 pound packages. That is about 300 packages a cow. Now imagine you work at a meat counter and you put these cuts out on the shelf. What do you think would happen? Do you think people will choose to buy the ribeyes, and roasts and ground beef in the correct ratio to actually sell all of your 300 packages? No. No you don't imagine that, because you know that it will be very challenging to match the 300 pieces of inventory supply with the particular demands of 300 shoppers. So then what happens?
Then you have to put some of the steaks and roasts people didn't buy on special, because too much time has passed and now the steaks are going bad. You are also going to take some of the ground beef that is going to expire and make flavored things like sausages and meatballs to see if you can sell the beef that way. You might include some of it in your prepared food items like beef fajitas for dinners to go. But no matter what you do, there will be waste in the form of beef you have to discard or discount. On top of it all you have to pay the staff at the meat counter and for all of the space the meat takes up in the store. And to cover the waste and discounts and employees, and workers comp and sick pay you have to mark up the meat quite a bit from what you bought it for. Somewhere from between 25 - 40% or more.
Yep, I know you are thinking you do not want to deal with all that, you want to leave the store and just sell books at the local book store, drink coffee and talk about ideas that you don't have to implement. You and me both. Even though we don’t think about the above, it is happening and we are paying for it every week, every time we reach into that meat case and choose a cut of meat. We are paying a lot for the convenience of choice at the retail level, but we are numb to it.
When you decide you don’t want to get charged up the ying yang for that anymore you can choose to buy a share of a Grounded Grassfed cow. You can buy direct from the producer, cut out all the middleman costs and save a lot of money over the course of the year. For all of your intelligence and discretion you save your ying yang...or what is known as about 30% of retail cost.
30% of what. Yeah I’m glad you asked. Well...let’s say your family eats about ⅓ of a pound of beef a day (the average individual American eats 3.7 pounds of meat a week. Family of three that would be 11 pounds). With this you would be best off with our half share which comes in at $8.30lb or about $3.00 lower than retail per pound. For a half share that is a $675 savings over retail on the year. I can think of all sorts of stupid things I would like to do with $675.
Even if there weren't savings there are a few other reasons why it is a good idea to cut out the middleman. The first is quality. You can only charge people for the attributes they perceive and are willing to pay for. It takes control of numerous variables to ensure your grassfed product tastes good. Controlling those variables is expensive and retailers typically will not pay a beef producer enough to control for those consistently. When it comes to grassfed and organics, the certification is the most important component for retailers in our experience. Quality often comes a distant second or third.
This is one of the reasons why some people do not like grassfed beef. They had product that was indeed grass fed, but not managed to produce a high quality eating experience. To be honest we raise Grounded Grassfed beef mostly for ourselves, so we work hard to control for the variables of taste. Because we sell direct to friends, friends of friends and family and don’t have to pay the middle man we can afford to. This way we can produce a high quality consistent product at an affordable price.
Knowing where your beef comes from is another great reason to buy direct. You can actually purchase a product labeled “product of the USA” that was produced in another country. See here and here. Unless you know your rancher, look them in the eye and ask them questions your steaks could be from Australia to Mexico and labeled as a USA product. There are some great single source programs out there at the retail level but they are the exception not the rule.
So look. I’m not saying we are the only game in town. What I am saying is that when you buy your beef from a retailer you are putting your ying yang in danger and paying way too much for inconsistent quality. Additionally you might not even know where the heck the product comes from because at the production level even the folks at the store often don’t know. So protect your Ying Yang…..you owe it that much.