Grocers are importing grass-fed beef products to meet growing domestic demand and saving up to a dollar per pound compared to U.S. options.
A report from NPR says U.S. consumers are increasingly attracted to grass-fed beef products. One Missouri ranch has 10,000 acres dedicated to raising thousands of grass-fed cattle, but is losing sales due to cheaper options abroad.
Patricia Whisnant says her operation, Rain Crow Ranch in southern Missouri, has attracted some big customers including Whole Foods, but has missed some opportunities as well. Whisnant says a potential customer opted for an Australian supplier who could provide the beef for 75 cents to a dollar cheaper per pound.
Conditions in Australia are better suited for raising grass-fed beef. Curt Lacy, an agricultural economist at the University of Georgia, told NPR the country’s low-cost, open space and weather system, where temperatures remain above freezing, allows it to keep livestock grazing all year.
Large-scale operations in Australia, where grass-fed production accounts for 70 percent of the country’s beef production, allows for efficiencies in everything from processing to shipping.
Brazil and Uruguay are also exporting a large quantity of grass-fed beef.