Pasture Raised Shakeup

I’ve been thinking this week about Perdue’s recent acquisition of the largest pasture raised chicken farm in the country.  I had a feeling this was coming, but I only heard confirmation recently.

Pasturebird was the real deal, a large scale independent farm that took “pasture raised” as a serious and important aspect of everything they did. I don’t know what Perdue’s goals are, but they’ll certainly be working to grow the business further. Their prices are currently a bit higher per pound than ours, but I’m sure they’ll apply the vast vertically integrated Perdue network to sell pasture raised chicken for fractions of what it costs in my world. I am confident that the other big industry companies Tyson, JBS, and Sanderson are also eyeing the pasture raised market.

The industry news makes me ask, what will make our farm continue to be relevant even if Perdue, Tyson, and the others manage to replicate our methods? In comparing price and distribution they can crush us, so there’s no chance of making a stand on those fronts. Relevancy is going to have to be established on the set of principles each side represents. These large poultry companies have been busy the last year fighting antitrust investigations over wage suppression and rounds of indictments for price fixing schemes. Conspiring against customers, conspiring against employees, conspiring against farmers, this is what Big Meat stands for. We know where the industry is headed.

Instead of “conspiring against”, our farm will “aspire toward”. We will aspire toward improving, building, and strengthening the people we work with and the land we farm. We’ll set the roots down deep. The industry sees this as the wrong direction because it isn’t the most efficient way to generate capital, but when they say “wrong” we know we’re on to something they’ve overlooked. During the next few years with the big guys barging in things may become more difficult, but I’m confident if we stick to our principles our farm will continue to connect with people who aspire toward the same goals.

Saplings can thrive even in the understory of the giants. There’s hope for the little guys still.

3 Comments on “Pasture Raised Shakeup

  1. I support your biz!! My fam is working to only eat meat from folks we know or from things we hunt…knowing that the animal was allowed to live its life on pasture as opposed to a cage makes all the difference for me!

    One thing that I have noticed is that most young people (I know this is a HUGE generalization) have never cooked a whole bird and are intimidated by it…bridging that knowledge gap might be a good way to get folks to eat more pastured whole birds?
    I cooked one last night and my small family will be fed by that one bird for at least 3 meals.

    great post as usual Dave!

    • We find that cut up chickens outsell whole chickens about 3 to 1. We need to price the breasts and thighs high to balance out the added processing costs and the loss of back bones, but that seems to be the primary way people prefer their chicken. In our family, whole birds work pretty well because among the five of us we have someone who prefers each of the parts, and then we can use the back and the bones for bone broth.

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