Dive Brief:

  • Perdue Premium Meat Company, a unit under Perdue Farms, is acquiring Panorama Meats, the nation’s largest producer of 100% grass-fed and grass-finished certified organic beef. Terms of the deal were not disclosed and Panorama’s leadership will remain in place in Woodland, California.
  • Founded in 2002, Panorama is made up of nearly 50 independent family ranchers that graze their cattle on USDA Certified Organic grasslands in California, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
  • Panorama Meats will be joining Perdue’s growing portfolio of premium, sustainable meat options including Niman Ranch, Coleman Natural and Prairie Grove.

Dive Insight:

Although Perdue is more closely associated with poultry, the company has been branching out in recent years, acquiring an antibiotic-free meat brand and looking at plant-based meat alternatives. But this latest acquisition is the first to focus on grass-fed beef.

As consumers become more conscious of the quality of what they eat, both plant-based and premium proteins have seen their popularity rise. Grass-fed beef, in which animals are raised and allowed to graze on small, independent farms — has particularly benefited from this trend. Perdue previously announced efforts to improve conditions to its facilities, and Panorama’s farms already meet these new standards. 

The Food Marketing Institute and North American Meat Institute’s recent “Power of Meat” report said grass-fed claims increased sales by 4.8% this past year, and 54% of consumers would like more grass-fed items in stores. This acquisition opens up that market for Perdue. 

Although this method of cattle rearing is more economically intensive, product sales have shown it’s worth the investment. A report from Stone Barn Center found although grass-fed beef is still a small percentage of the entire retail market, sales have grown from $17 million in 2012 to $272 million in 2016. While a significant jump, not all of that growth is from America’s pastures. According to the Stone Barns report, 75% to 80% of grass-fed beef sold in the U.S. comes from abroad.

With Panorama, it seems like Perdue saw an opportunity to cater directly to the consumers who are asking for grass-fed beef. Although Niman Ranch and Coleman Natural both also produce beef that Perdue sells under its Premium Proteins portfolio, Perdue can use this acquisition to appeal to consumers with environmental concerns — but who still really like hamburgers. After all, recent Nielsen data showed that nearly half of U.S. consumers may switch their purchasing decisions based on environmental standards. According to a study sponsored by the American Grassfed Association, beef producers raising grass-fed cattle are better stewards of prairie grasslands because of their stake in the continued health of the ecosystem.

But Perdue isn’t alone. A new study by Market Growth Insight pointed to Conagra Brands, Verde Farm, Hormel Foods, JBS and Sysco Corporation as key players in the grass-fed market. Hormel has grass-fed beef under its Applegate brand. JBS owns Grass Run Farms, where cattle are not only grass-fed but sourced primarily from the Midwest. Conagra has Duke’s grass-fed, smoked meat snacks.

While Panorama allows Perdue to appeal to consumers searching for beef products that are better for their bodies and the environment, there is a lot of competition. Highlighting the fact that Panorama cattle are exclusively raised in the U.S. could be a good place to start. This provides significant appeal to consumers looking to keep their environmental footprint small as they continue to enjoy red-blooded American fare like steak and burgers.

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