A significant number of bison marketers say they could increase sales by more than 25% today, if they had adequate meat supplies, according to a survey conducted by the National Bison Association.
Increasing supply of market ready animals is the No. 1 challenge for the industry, according to the marketers who responded to the survey.
"Focus on retaining existing producers and encouraging new producers in the industry," wrote one respondent. Another noted, "(The NBA should work to) increase the herd and stabilize prices to a profitable but sustainable level."
Ninety percent said they expect the tight supply situation will continue at least until 2014.
"All of us marketers are looking at this year's calf crop, because that will be our supply in 2014," says Bruce Anderson, chair of the NBA Commercial Marketers' Committee, and owner of Western Buffalo Company, Rapid City, SD.
The marketers' survey indicated that retail sales are capturing a larger share of the overall marketplace. The respondents noted that the marketplace is split roughly even between retail and foodservice customers, but that retail sales are increasing at a more rapid pace. A market study conducted in 2003 found that sales in restaurants and other foodservice outlets comprised 80% of the bison market at that time.
"Years ago, people weren't as familiar with bison and were more willing to try it in a restaurant. Once they took their first bite, they loved the product and began looking for it in the grocery stores," says Dave Carter, NBA executive director
The survey results were presented to more than 250 ranchers, processors and marketers attending the association's recent summer conference in Big Sky, Mont.
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Source: National Bison Association