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Covid-19 forces new marketing: ranch to table

Saint Maries—Idaho ranchers are moving cattle, in the time of COVID-19, the industry is rapidly changing.

“We do have a market for people to purchase an animal,” said rancher Mike Ingersoll.

Many ranchers like Ingersoll report an increase in demand for their beef. While packers and retailers have seen supply chain issues throughout the pandemic, some major processing plants were closed down because of illness, that led to rising cost and even rationing of beef at some grocery stores. That sent consumers directly to ranchers.

"I see this as a trend of people wanting to know exactly where their beef is coming from and where they were processed," said Linda Rider.

Rider from Rider Ranch in Coeur d'Alene says consumers just wanted someone dependable.

"I have friends that would normally just buy food at the grocery store, buy their meat at the grocery store and had an 'aha!" moment and went down the road where we have a guy that does the processing, and purposely went there and bought meat," said Rider.

Ranchers are low on feeder cattle.

"We are in a bad point right now where we don't have the surplus right now to accommodate the people that are calling but we will have in the next year," said Ingersoll.

And Ingersoll says he's adding to his herd. Most of Rider's Angus cattle are also spoken for in the fall," he said.

Rider says times have changed.

"People are not moving around, It's going to take some creative marketing to lure people back to doing things," said Rider.

Now many ranchers are working hard to meet the need of neighbors and friends coming to them for direct sale of beef.

"We're going to make a little profit, still we have to pay for the packaging and kill fee that's all accommodated in the price. The place is USDA inspected and the chance is yours and the opportunity to get what you want," said Ingersoll.

As ranchers wait for the restaurant supply line to come back, many will sell directly to the shoppers, their neighbors, and friends in a hybrid marketing system, born from Covid-19.