On May 7, 2015 the Brock Center for Agricultural Communication hosted a forum about local meat producers and how they navigate production, processing and marketing their beef products.
For those who didn’t get the opportunity to join us, here are the top things we learned from Mark Klever, Belcampo President and Roland Camacho, Beef Production Manager of Hearst Beef Ranch.
1. Transparency with consumers is important.
Klever highlighted the different Belcampo shops and restaurants across California. Belcampo has locations in Santa Monica, Downtown Los Angeles, San Francisco, Larkspur (Marin County), Palo Alto and Santa Barbara.
While each shop is tailored to its different communities, the shops have a running theme of keeping everything open, not trying to hide any part of the butchering process from the consumer. Butchers are out in the open cutting meat for consumers, where the consumer can clearly see what goes into segmenting a carcass. The Larkspur restaurant even has an open window looking into their meat locker, with hanging carcasses on display. While some people might think this is a turn-off for consumers, Klever said visitors love the feature.
“When it comes to talking farms, butchers and consumers, it all comes down to communication,” Klever said. “When you live it, it’s easy to tell your story.”
Camacho also added the same principles apply at Hearst Ranch, saying “we make everything as transparent as possible” when dealing with consumers.
2. While transparency is important, it’s important to keep goals and operations realistic.
Both Klever and Camacho emphasized the market demand for grassfed beef. Consumers want to know where the cow came from, what it’s being fed and that the animal is being treated as humanely as possible.
While both Hearst Ranch and Belcampo do as much as possible to cater to the consumer, some demands are not economically viable. “Consumers are crucial,” Klever said, “but we have to be careful to not let consumers drive us to something unrealistic.”
3. Consistency is a key component to customer loyalty.
Mark Klever explained the pressure to deliver a high quality product on time never ceases to be a challenge. Yet, it is crucial to maintain the loyalty and trust of any producer’s consumer base.
According to Klever, losing a customer can take a matter of seconds once they realize your product isn’t ready to go perfectly on time. “Customers are hard to build but easy to lose,” he said.
Consistent production should always be a top priority, therefore production plans must be created far in advance with room for adaptations to consumers’ changing demand.
And a final note of wisdom…
“Common sense is the rarest commodity of all!” Don’t underestimate the power of basic consumer education.