Tips for Marketing Local Meat

Local foods are enjoying strong demand, however, until recently the buy local movement has been largely concentrated on fresh seasonal produce. Many livestock farmers are now aware that the “buy local” movement is strong and that there is demand for their products in local markets. However, tapping into those markets may be intimidating to farmers new to direct marketing. Who are local meats consumers and where do they shop? What products are they looking for and how do you set pricing? This article begins to answer such commonly asked questions.

Local meats buyers can be divided into three basic groups, experience-driven “foodies”, cause-driven “greens” and price-driven traditional buyers. Each group is driven to local meat, and arguably local foods, by different desires and needs. Here is a basic profile on each group (and summarized in Table 1):

Foodies are food enthusiasts; they seek authentic eating experiences including gourmet and regional specialties. A foodie wants an excellent eating experience and to taste foods that have a story and a known source. Foodies consider the farm name, the cut, and the way it was prepared as bragging rights. As such, foodies are primarily interested in buying high-value cuts, such as steaks, but also other cuts. Of the three consumer groups, foodies are the least price sensitive. They primarily buy meat in small quantities and individual cuts, but may also be interested in buying in bulk or joining a meat CSA. Part of the experience they seek is shopping and talking to the farmer. Foodies like to shop at farmers’ markets and specialty stores when buying meat to prepare at home and also like to order locally raised meats at restaurants.

Green consumers are seeking local meat in the quest for a safe, sustainable, and healthy meal. This category broadly groups all consumers motivated by “social causes” including the environment, humane treatment of animals, supporting the local economy and farmers, as well as those seeking local meats for personal health reasons. Green consumers may also be recently converted vegetarians, or people who choose to not eat commodity meat. These consumers are motivated to purchase meats that they perceive to support any number of social causes and view a purchase as a way to support their beliefs. Such consumers will shop at natural food stores, locally-owned stores and restaurants, and will also like to buy direct from the farmer throughfarmers’ markets, meat CSA’s and in bulk. Green consumers want to learn more about the products they buy, such as how and where they were raised and while they will identify with claims such as “natural” and “pasture raised”, they will want to verify the validity of such claims.

The final group is the traditional local meat buyers. This group includes consumers that have purchased a quarter or side of beef or other meat for many years. In decades past, it was common to buy the household supply of meat through what is called the “freezer trade”. People, mostly rural residents, would buy a side from a nearby farm and keep a spare freezer in which to store it. Traditional buyers definitely appreciate the quality and range of cuts that come from purchasing local meats in bulk, but are mostly motivated by the low price and high value. Traditional buyers are less likely to buy individual cuts or to shop for meat at farmers’ markets or specialty stores. Traditional buyers, once they have a good experience with a farm, remain loyal, returning to buy again and again.

Each group comes to the marketplace with different motivations and buying habits, but they all have one demand in common – quality. To be successful in the local meats marketplace, it is essential to deliver quality and honesty to customers. As the saying goes, “you can only sell a customer one bad steak.” Each of these consumer groups are potential customers for local meats producers.

For successful results in the local meats market, tailor farm marketing to one or more of these groups. The group or groups chosen will impact marketing choices including marketing channels, prices, cuts, claims and advertising. Once marketing materials are developed, keep some form of brochures, business card, or price sheets on-hand at all times. You never know when you will meet your next customer, and you need to be able to give them your contact information.

Direct marketing livestock producers often struggle with managing the inventory of low and high value cuts, and the proportions of each that come from one animal. Another key to success in local meats market is to be sure that the entire carcass is sold. There are a few strategies to accomplish this. One strategy is to price each cut in relation to its yield and desirability. Another is to balance the cut list to a limited selection of cuts that sell well, turning the rest into ground beef.

Additionally, you can sell packages of meat which include both low and high value cuts to balance the inventory.

Additional tips for marketing include:
  • Donate or offer a discount to fundraisers and events, make sure your farm name is highly-visible and well-represented.
  • Participate in agricultural events, especially those with tastings and samples of your product.
  • Consider giving samples of ground beef to potential high volume buyers.
  • Clearly and consistently communicate your claims and practices on all materials.
  • Encourage customers to visit your farm to build trust and make a stronger connection to your product.

In summary, it is clear that consumers are demanding more local meats. Identifying target consumer types, communicating to their desires and needs, and finding where they shop are good tips for smart marketers. All customers want quality and honesty – all the time. Once a marketing plan and materials have been developed, always have some on hand, you never know when you will meet your next customer. Finally, don’t fall into the trap of selling steaks. To last in the meat business you must sell the whole carcass!

This article first appeared in the September 2010 issue of “Smart Marketing”. Past articles are available.

Avatar of Matt LeRoux

Matt LeRoux

Matt LeRoux works for Cornell Cooperative Extension in Tompkins County, NY as the Agriculture Marketing Specialist. In 2008 Matt developed the Marketing Channel Assessment Tool to assist producer decision making and improve marketing performance. In 2012, Matt started the Finger Lakes Meat Project including, two community Meat Lockers, and the Cornell Meat Price & Yield Calculator.


  1. Avatar of Kairi Gainsborough Kairi Gainsborough on March 14, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    Thanks for all the great background information about buying meat from a butcher shop. I wouldn’t call myself a “foodie,” but, the way you describe that group, that is where I would fit. It would be fun to try cooking a new cut of meat or something special like that for dinner. I’ll have to try to find a local butcher that has what I’m looking for.

  2. Avatar of ALICE KWARTENG ALICE KWARTENG on May 29, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    Thank you for this strategy giving me as a new cattle farmer who is looking for ways to market my products

  3. Avatar of ALICE KWARTENG ALICE KWARTENG on May 29, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    Please I need more marketing strategies

  4. Avatar of Mark Murphy Mark Murphy on August 30, 2018 at 10:13 am

    I really appreciate your emphasis on quality over quantity when you are marketing meat. I don’t market meat, but I know that I would want to have quality meat over quantity. I will be sure to keep an eye out for butcher shops and find the ones that focus on quality.

  5. Avatar of avinash avinash on November 27, 2018 at 7:47 am

    i have online meat business i want to increase my business so please suggest for it.

  6. Avatar of Paul Hogan Paul Hogan on July 30, 2022 at 9:20 am

    Hey you guys. Have you considered, getting the word out, with all the carnivore groups that are growing fast on Utube, Instagram and Twitter.
    Several famous professors and many doctors, surgeons and many amazing followers demonstrating that EATING MEAT is the most amazing thing ever curing many diseases. Just check it out. I’ve 100% LCHF carnivore for only 6 weeks. And I feel like a new man. I’m nearly 75 and the results in the improvement in my health is wonderful. Brain fog gone, energy and mojo returned, life is like all new & sharp again.
    Check it out on loads of carnivore discovery Utube sites.
    It’s about time the (2nd flat earth type society) had a massive wake up call.

    Something has to be done surely to stop the western diet disaster: 40/60% sick & I’ll with a corrupt NHS pushing veganism.

    See prof Ben Bickmans findings.
    Also Prof Tim Noakes

    Plants are not a good source of food for humans. I makes them sick whoever eats it.

  7. Avatar of Paul Hogan Paul Hogan on August 1, 2022 at 8:32 am

    Hey again all you guys & gals again.

    There is a fantastic new way of advertising the benefits of meat eating that’s really quite amazing for the health of everyone.

    But it’s just like getting people to step away from “The Flat Earth Society”. You guys on the meat production line are real lucky now to have the latest scientific truths about eating meat. So it’s yippee! You have a lot of help backing you up to sell many tons more meat. It’s the carnivore revolution groups that are hitting the headlines.

    All the corruption, lies and deceit has now been exposed to show that ” plants are very bad to eat “.

    There are lots of very qualified surgeons, professors, doctors, ex vegans and many more, expounding the benefits of eating fatty MEAT!

    So come on guys. Let’s see you blossom into wonderful healthy organisations.

    See Dr Anthony Chaffees video below just for starters. Can you believe this is true?
    Yes I would say immediately.
    Just take few minutes to allow it to sink in.

    Video to watch link below
    Dr Anthony Chaffee talking about how to reverse dementia plus other illnesses.

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