LONDON, Ohio — While many farmers have been selling meat directly to consumers in the form of freezer beef, pork and lamb for years, the expanding local food movement offers interested producers additional opportunities, said Mark Mechling, agriculture and natural resources educator at the Muskingum County office of Ohio State University Extension and a member of OSU Extension’s Direct Marketing Team.
Traditional marketing of freezer meat involves the livestock farmer selling either a quarter, half or whole animal to one or several consumers, taking the animal to a licensed processor, then the consumers picking up the meat from the processor.
But a growing number of producers want to know how they can market the processed meat products themselves through retail channels, such as farm markets, stores, restaurants or directly to consumers from the farm, Mechling said.
Mechling will discuss the rules, regulations, pros and cons of this growing trend in a session titled “Direct marketing of meat in Ohio” on Wednesday, Sept. 19 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Farm Science Review near London.
The growing trend of purchasing meat directly from farmers has been driven more by consumers than producers, Mechling said.
“People want to find out where the product is coming from and ask questions,” he said. “In some cases, it’s people who grew up on a farm consuming their own meat, liked the taste of it, and now they’re removed from the farm but still like the taste and are interested in supporting that local farmer.”
Regardless of the reason, the reality is people will often pay more for directly marketed meat, so the potential for added profit exists, Mechling said.
“It allows a producer to control the price they ultimately get for their animal, where if they drop it off at the sale barn they are kind of at the mercy of the buyers that day,” he said.
But there also are more management and marketing skills involved with direct marketing compared to commodity marketing, so it often depends on the producer’s preference, he said.
Farm Science Review is sponsored by the Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, OSU Extension, and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Pre-show tickets are $5 at all OSU Extension county offices. Tickets are also available at local agribusinesses. Tickets are $8 at the gate. Children 5 and younger are admitted free. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 18-19 and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 20.