Who's selling pork?
This topic contains 35 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by Robert Poteet 5 years, 7 months ago.
August 8, 2011 at 8:13 pm #16483
I thought it might be a good idea for us to talk about pork sales. Not all breeders sell pork, and probably shouldn’t. But I believe in order to preserve the Large Black breed we must create a demand for the pork. So someone needs to sell pork.
Who is selling pork and where are you finding your customers? Do you sell mainly retail or wholesale? Are you processing your pork? Do you sell to restaurants? How do you market your pork? How do you base your pricing?August 8, 2011 at 8:39 pm #17524
We sell whole and half hogs raised on pasture and non-GMO grains. They are taken to the butcher of the purchaser’s choice for processing.
We have found most of our customers through the Weston Price Foundation Chapter closest to us. These are people who really care about where their food comes from and how it was raised. In the case of the pigs, how they were fed is just as important as what kind of pigs they are.August 10, 2011 at 6:24 am #17526
“Not all breeders sell pork, and probably shouldn’t.” Hmmm…. in my way of thinking this would read “Not all breeders sell breeding animals, and probably shouldn’t”. Anyone who is raising Large Blacks and who is not independently wealthy likely can’t afford to keep them just for fun. The purpose of raising pigs is to provide healthy, great tasting meat – right? So in my way of thinking, the amount of people raising “pork” should outweigh the number raising “breeding stock”. The Large Blacks on my place certainly are there to produce pork first with the very best animals to be kept for future breeding stock.August 10, 2011 at 9:06 pm #17527
Sorry for not being clear, Matthew, we have been busy and was in a hurry to get this conversation going because its been on my mind a lot lately. I do agree with you. What I mean by that statement is that the whole process of selling pork is completely different from selling breeders. When you specialize as one of the largest breeders in the area for example (most sows / bloodlines…) your focus is on breeding and all the things that go along with that. Your marketing is based on attracting the people that want to buy piglets to either breed or to raise for pork. That is your only demographic. Finding people who want to buy piglets.
Selling a few barrows each year to your neighbors and friends is not really pork production. There are a whole slew of things you have to go through to have a pork presence. There is a complete different marketing plan. A complete different approach to selling your breed stock and a complete different set up around your farm. The demand for pork must be created to have breeders be successful, so someone does have to promote the pork and I completely agree that that number should greatly outnumber breeders, however I suspect it currently doesn’t. I suspect that many people start raising Large Blacks thinking they will sell lots of piglets. Some do. Others find themselves with lots of piglets that grow up to be pigs and they have no idea what then to do with them.
I’m working on some tips for getting into the pork business and wanted to hear some feedback from others that are also primarily focusing on pork so we can share ideas.August 11, 2011 at 5:04 am #17528Member: TX
We have been selling pork for a few weeks now, we have our own Label but we are also not happy with the processor. The Label and processor are tied together so a new processor means a new Label. We are selling from the Farm and at a local Farmers Market. We are not large enough to have pork at all times, so it is tough to get restaurants on board. We have looked at a co-op type deal but there is so much inconsistency on what folks are feeding or willing to feed because of cost and the uncertainty of the future market. We do have 5 nearly ready for market now and more before the year end. We also have 5 sows bagging up right now and hopefully the next 5 sows will birth before years end.
If anyone wants to speak to me feel free to call or email.
Oh, one question for the group. I have 3 sows, pure bred but not registered. I am planning to get one litter out of these girls and then process the sows, any thoughts or experience on this?August 11, 2011 at 5:44 am #17529
This is some of the exact stuff I’m talking about, Frank. Great post.
We have processed sows after having one or two litters. Excellent and quite wonderful pork. Sorry to have to take out a sow, but a bad sow does not do your farm any good. If they aren’t bad sows though, you might consider selling them to someone else or trading for a cut barrow. That way she still gets to produce more babies and you get pork.
Labeling is a huge concern when you start this process. So is your processor. Shop around. The one closest to you isn’t always the best choice. We drive 200 miles round trip to our processor when there is one 4 miles from our farm. How they package, what they charge, what they are willing to do, how they are willing to do it…. all things you need to know. Having less than 5 hogs a month is going to make you a very small priority on most processors lists. You need to find someone willing to work with you so you get pork when you need it. And how you need it.
Looks matter. One processor is cheaper but the vinyl often is not completely sealed and in a matter of a few days it looks like crap. The other charges me $3.00 per pound extra to slice my fresh bellies. Not even cured. But when they are done they look like they should and I can get top retail price for them.
Restaurants won’t take you seriously until you take your pork production serious. That is very hard in your first 3 years. Only now are we even able to get into restaurants. And still there is no way I can match the price they are currently paying for pork, nor can I make their every wish come true with availability of cuts.
Offer them what you can to start. Half a hog at a time. Split a hog between two restaurants. Sell them items that don’t move at the farmers markets….skin, heads, offal. Talk to restaurants that know and understand what you are doing and how you are doing it. Some get it, others don’t. Don’t waste time trying to convince the ones that don’t because there are many that do and you don’t have enough for everyone anyway.
More later as I have time. Keep the questions and information coming. This is all stuff that people need to know if they are going to sell pork. I’m sure there are many that have information they can contribute. Maybe we can put together a document on how to start selling pork.August 13, 2011 at 6:34 am #17530
Sorry I misunderstood your original post South Texas, I agree with everything you’ve written after that. I am starting into raising more pigs over the course of the next two years, by next fall I’ll have a mix of 12 gilts / sows from 3 different breeds and will be producing some breeding stock but primarily butcher pigs. I’m very interested in seeing what folks come up with here. I’ll talk about my plans here if folks won’t get too upset about mentioning other breeds and crossbreeding the Large Blacks… I have seen some discussions in the past that were not open to that idea.August 15, 2011 at 8:49 am #17533
We cross are LB’s with Tamworths for pork. We are a primarily Large Black herd and we promote the LB’s to anyone that will listen (quite literally). However, cross breeding has its benefits as well as its drawbacks. We try to watch for the best overall features when selecting for our herd.
We need breeders to specialize in keeping the bloodlines active and the breed stock available. But we also need to create the demand to keep people interested in breeding. That is where the pork plays its role. Breeders in close proximity to one another can pool to create a bigger supply, but as Frank pointed out not everyone has the same ideas about feed and care for their product. Its hard to take passionate people and have them all agree about something. Especially something so personal as feed and care.August 25, 2011 at 8:31 am #17544Member: AK
Triple McLean FarmsParticipant
I am just getting the LBs going here in Alaska, 2 litters coming any day now, and have people interested in breeding stock and for eating. I am really excited to be having the firt ever LB litters born in Alaska and am getting a lot of interest. The one question I have about selling these guys for meat is, What do I charge? Most folks are pre-ordering them when they are of butcher weight, so I guess my question is what do I charge for a whole hog ready to butcher? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!August 26, 2011 at 3:09 am #17548
This is a very difficult question to answer. You charge what your market will pay. That’s hard to state without some research. Find out what your local markets charge for grass fed beef, organic chicken, any sustainable or heritage meats. In relation to your standard commercial mass produced meats, how much are consumers paying for the good stuff?
Also variables are whether or not you are charging for a whole/half hog (no processing, just sell the meat) or are you having it processed and then selling retail? Retail takes licenses, permits, labels, processing fees, marketing, and on and on. You can’t charge the same for a whole hog as you can for cuts.
You also have to factor in where you are selling. Again, whole hog where you drop it off and be done is one thing. Deliver to restaurants, farmers markets, CSA’s… all these take time, gas, permits in some cases, and extra money.
No easy answers. Price to sell what you have and hopefully run out. Make sure you charge enough to cover all your expenses. Your customers will be glad you do. All the efforts you are putting in need to sustain you over time or they are all wasted.August 26, 2011 at 9:44 am #17549Member: TX
I know it gets sticky here, to quote prices and all, but this is exactly what we’re all needing to know and want to understand. I hear that some people price their pork at $4 a pound, hanging weight, others as much as $12-$15 a pound, or more, for “processed” cuts. Is that accurate? Is that sustainable? These are the tough questions and answers a lot of us desire and need from those experienced in the sale of the pork.
RossAugust 26, 2011 at 8:06 pm #17553
Currently we charge $6.00 per pound hanging weight for whole or half hog. No processing. We of course give a better price than that to our better chefs and restaurants (pricing for restaurants is tricky… don’t fall into just wanting to be in someone’s restaurant and give away all your prime cuts for less than wholesale and have nothing to sell at the retail level, unless your focus is only wholesale). We could be less expensive at a wholesale price, but we are not trying to encourage wholesale because our retail market pays the bills. If you make very little per animal you better have a lot of animals or another income. If someone wants a whole hog, they can still get it, but we sell very few outside the restaurant business.
Restaurants are important to both your retail market and your wholesale market because they reach a lot of people, but again you have to be careful not to fall into the “belly and pork chops” trap. Work with restaurants that can take your off cuts and make something wonderful out of them. Like Crispy Pigs Feet (actual dish at one of our customers restaurant).
Retail we are between $9 – $15 depending on cuts (no tenderloin!). That may sound expensive, but given the extra costs to be in a retail market and all the extra processing, this is relative to the wholesale pricing structure. Our costs are much higher also due to the prices for being at farmers markets. Coolers, tents, tables, bags, banners, media holders, plus all the marketing materials, stall fees, permits, licenses and background checks, and lets not forget dry ice three times per week. All of this adds up quickly. There are a lot of smaller farms out there that sell in small, unregulated farmers markets and they by-pass all the paperwork. Saves money, but you don’t get near the foot traffic nor the exposure.
Also included in your costs, if you are planning to make a valued name for your business, are lots of demos and samples. People have to try it, then they are sold. Cooking demos by local chefs are the best. Charity functions where you can have the chef make mention of your product and why its different and why you donated it are also good. We have often joked that we finally gave away enough that people started wanted to pay for our pork.
And we still give a lot away. Don’t be afraid to do this. You can write it off as marketing costs. Invite chefs to your farm. Invite customers. Have group tours. Farm days, dinners, anything to get them out to see what you are doing. The more interest, the more the word spreads. Then someone says, “Why don’t I know about these folks…” and it spreads more.
To those that tell me they don’t have a market for this pork, I respectfully disagree. There are so many people in the US that can’t get good pork. Most don’t even know it exists any more. They have given up on good pork and many have given up on pork completely. Heritage Foods has told me they can’t even really promote the Large Black pork because they can’t get any on a regular basis. They would take my pork, if I can provide a truckload at a time, or enough local producers that they could work with a regional facility for processing. Not enough in the entire state of TEXAS to have any interest.
There is a market for this pork. You just have to get it out there.August 26, 2011 at 11:19 pm #17555Member: TX
Excellent post/info. I would like to hear about the processor experiences. I have a few nearly ready to go and was wondering about the different cuts, cured naturally or with the regular stuff like MSG. My customers, most anyway will turn away as soon as they see the MSG. This is the reason I am swapping processors. Do folks like the 1/2″ or the 1″ chops? Is anyone in Texas have a good processor that you are happy with? It is such a long process to get a new meat label approved. I am in talks with one right now that says they will get the label done within a week??? They are also telling me about a “natural” curing recipe that they are working on. Any experiences and advice will be greatly appreciated.
FrankSeptember 28, 2011 at 5:37 am #17577
Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. We were pretty busy with the farm dinner. Great way to get publicity by the way. Click the link above.
More later on processors and labels. We do 1.5″ chops and 3/4″ or 1″. The extra thick cut really have the WOW factor. Sells great.September 29, 2011 at 1:48 am #17579
Frank, a label can be approved pretty quickly if printed in house and if their inspector is on sight. Some require sending off the label, which takes longer. Some are just lazy and don’t want the extra work of getting your label approved. That’s why it is important to ask a lot of questions before committing to one processor. Or before you spend a lot of money on printed labels you cannot use anywhere else.
Curing requires nitrates. Even if they use natural items to create the nitrates, they are still nitrates. All depends on your customer base and what they want. We don’t cure anything except during the holidays and by special purchase/request. And then only hams. Bacon is a waste of pork belly. Especially when pork belly sells so well uncured.
Everyone’s experience is going to be different. Before you spend a lot of money I would see how your market plays out and what your customers want and what you can educate them on.