Direct Marketing Beef Profile

Revised May 2020

Overview

Direct marketing refers to the sale of beef products directly from ranches/feedlots to consumers.  Direct marketing includes sales to grocery stores, restaurants, door-to-door, at farmers’ markets, and through Internet delivery.  Farmers’ markets continue to grow in the United States. According to the USDA, more than 8,771 farmers’ markets operated in 2019 which was a substantial increase from the 6,132 markets that operated in 2010.

Direct marketing of livestock products is not as common as direct marketing of fruits and vegetables because livestock products require a high degree of processing, and a larger amount of resources like land and capital.  However, direct marketing can provide price premiums for producers.  Direct marketing represents a niche marketing strategy for beef producers. Often, consumers who choose to buy directly from farms are highly concerned about food safety, environmental impacts of food production, animal welfare, production practices. These consumers focus on supporting local agriculture.

Numerous firms offer beef products through Internet sales.  The majority of these sales involve frozen rather than fresh beef.  One advantage of frozen beef sales is that it allows for longer shelf life and mitigates some seasonality problems.  Beef that is transported across state lines must be processed in a federally-inspected plant.

The strategic approaches employed by direct marketing beef companies vary widely.  In addition to organic and natural beef products, some companies use specific genetics to produce lean beef products, or stick to one select breed and market their products accordingly.  A growing number of consumers are looking for farms which specialize in grass-fed beef, while others have a preference for the more common, grain-finished beef.

Sources

Farmers Markets, Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

Food CPI, Economic Research Service (ERS), USDA.

Food Marketing & Price Spreads, ERS, USDA.

Food Prices, Expenditures & Costs, ERS, USDA