What is Boxed Beef?
“Now that’s a first!” I said to John after finishing a call with our processor. First and foremost, it was unusual for him to call me; I’m the one who usually calls to turn in cutting orders, schedule pick-ups or inquire about the possibility of a special cut requested by a customer. Never before has he called to report on boxed beef pricing.
Boxed beef is defined as primal cuts, such as the round, loin, ribs, and chuck, which are intermediate between the carcass; these cuts are placed in boxes to be distributed to retail establishments. For example, a cow arrives at the slaughter-house where it is cut into large portions; portions are boxed and shipped to specialty meat markets and supermarkets where butchers cut the meat into smaller, familiar cuts. The boxed beef loin makes up the tenderloin and sirloin; the boxed chuck portion makes up chuck roasts, flat-iron steaks, Denver steaks and petite tenders.
The conversation went like this:
Processor: “I have no idea what John’s Farm gets per pound for ribeye, KC’s, sirloin, or filets but you need to know that the big packing companies continue to increase their prices. This week I raised the price of ribeye in my meat case to $18/lb.”
(I gasped before saying “what in the world?”)
Mr. Processor went on to explain that historically when the packing companies raise the price of ground, this in turn lowers the cost of primal cuts that would be used for steaks and when the price of ground increases the cost of primal cuts to be used for steaks is lowered. That is far from what is happening now. The cost of all boxed beef has increased.
Oklahoma Grocery Store Research
Out of curiosity I visited several supermarkets (you would recognize their names) and what I found was concerning. Each store handles a small amount of organic beef and large amounts of conventionally raised beef. Sure enough, just as Mr. Processor forewarned me, consumers are paying more. This is especially true for conventionally raised beef, that is beef that is initially raised in a pasture before being sent to a feed yard for fattening and then hauled to a large packing facility to be boxed up and sold at retail stores. Keep in mind, the majority of this beef is conventionally raised with antibiotics, hormones, treated pastures, and lack of any certification or verification that you and I deem important.
Additionally, the origin of most boxed beef is unknown, which means it often travels hundreds or thousands of miles before arriving at a large packing house. Smithfield, Tyson, Cargill, JBS, and National Beef are the largest slaughter-houses in the US based on number of employees. A large percentage of the beef arriving at these packing plants have spent the last 90 days in feed yards.
Oklahoma Beef Processor
I’m so thankful we can work with Kiowa Locker Systems, a family-owned and operated, USDA inspected, small meat processing facility. When we first began working with Kiowa Locker the elderly Mr. Hitchcock was coming to work every day just to stay involved while his son was taking the reigns. Rick eased into ownership and just this year Rick’s grandson, after returning from a military assignment in Afghanistan, has joined the family business to begin preparing for management duties in the future. Kiowa is a short 60 miles, 1 hour drive from our home; we can and do visit the facility frequently; we observe John's Farm Beef being processed; we call the facility and talk with the owner.
The John's Farm Difference
Oops…back to the point of price increases. As a family-owned and operated, hands-on farm we feel while it is important to know what the rest of the world is doing the big packing companies are uninvolved in our decisions. Sometimes local means higher prices; I totally understand why and will share those stats another time. What matters in this longer-than-usual writing is the cost of raising grass-finished, organic, humanely treated, healthy, wholesome beef and the price of the finished product. We have done our homework, pushed the pencil, and determined at this time John’s Farm Organic, Grass-finished ground beef price can be lowered; the price of other cuts will hold steady through 2021. When that determination was reached John and I sighed in relief, and we hope you will as well!
Your friends and neighbors might appreciate knowing there is beef available at an Oklahoma farm that was established in 1893; John's Farm Beef comes with certifications/verifications unlike any other beef in Oklahoma, through testing it has proven exceptionally healthy, it is single-source being raised on John’s Farm from birth-to-processing. We are real, skin-on farmers reaching for the goal of producing the highest quality beef possible for our family and yours. We consider it a blessing to have the opportunity of serving you and yours!