I have the luxury of interacting with a lot of our customers, something larger companies don’t/can’t do. Over the years I have heard a wide array of comments about the price of our products, everything from “that’s way too expensive” to “wow, that’s cheap.” Price is a pretty controversial topic in the pasture-raised meats world, so I wanted to address how we feel about it.
While we have never been rich, and have at times been close to poor, we know that we have generally lived a life of privilege. There has always been food to eat and a roof over our heads, and most of all, we have been able to pursue our passions with confidence. Teaching and farming aren’t exactly get-rich-quick schemes and there have been plenty of financial worries along the way, but with some help, optimism, and hard work, we now see a light at the end of the tunnel.
When we started to sell meat five years ago we had to set our prices. We looked around at other farmers and what they were charging, and did the math on what we have into an animal and what we would need to get back out of it. Here is where we faced a crossroads.
Do we charge what we think we can find customers to buy? Or Do we charge what we think we need to be financially sustainable?
We have repeatedly come up against this dichotomy in the pasture-raised meats world. Several of our farmer friends and even my marketing guru talk about how we should be able to charge high prices and be so amazing that people will want to throw large amounts of money at us for our products. While I admit that that sounds nice, it goes against our mission of providing nutrient-dense, delicious food for our community. Our community isn’t only made up of well-off people, and we believe that wholesome food should be accessible for all. We know that not everyone can afford our products as it is, but we do what we can to keep our prices low.
Another charge has been thrown at me about our pasture-raised meats and comes from those in more conventional agriculture circles. It sounds something like, “You can only charge higher prices because you’re a niche. If everyone raised meat like you, you couldn’t demand a premium.” I will admit that there are parts of that statement that aren’t wrong. It is true that we demand more than conventional, store-bought meat, but often less than pasture-raised, store-bought meat. There is a lot of work, infrastructure, and marketing that go into us being able to raise and sell meat on our own.
If more people started raising meat the way we do because the consumers seemed to be demanding it, I would welcome it rather than worry about if my prices would still be defensible. Because along with that comes the fact that better infrastructure and marketing for products like mine would be available, which would make my life easier so my prices could come down if necessary. Secondly, I believe that prices would even out to somewhere in the middle between the low commodity prices of today and the really high prices of other pastured meats farmers, so we may not be that far off. Finally, this would mean that more people would be eating high-quality meats that are good for their bodies, communities, and the planet. I don’t see how that is a losing proposition for anyone.
So when you look at our prices, know that there is a lot of thought behind those numbers. There are certainly others with cheaper prices that are possibly using the same practices as us, but our experience is there are many who are higher. We do have the benefit(some days it doesn’t feel that way) of extra income from our off-farm jobs, so we are more focused on what we want the farm to be making when we have reached our goals of number of animals raised in a year rather than how much we have to make off the farm this year to survive. And know that if we raise a price on a product, it has been done with a lot of hesitation as we understand that a price jump may take it out of reach for some. Usually these price jumps will be done to reflect the rising cost of processing as good butchers become harder to find. But most importantly, I hope you will join us in striving for a world in which everyone has access to good food.