HeartBrand itself represents a unique business model. That’s the other thing that convinced Fielding.

“You’ve got to have the right organization,” Fielding says. “The Beeman family grew Eddy Packing Co. into one of the largest further-processors in the U.S. They have a world of experience in further-processing, branded programs, transportation and marketing.”

In other words, like Fielding, the Beemans understood that a primary stumbling block to most branded-beef programs is the inability to carve premiums from the entire carcass, not just the middle meats.

Fielding explains the consistently higher carcass yield in Akaushi crossbreds gives them a reliably wider margin to start with. The consistent quality and taste means they can also get a premium for the entire carcass, including the end meats and ground beef.

“The Beemans saw the value in these cattle when they killed the first ones harvested in this country. They’re entrepreneurial,” Fielding emphasizes. “They had the resources and put them behind what they thought could be the future of the beef industry. I don’t know of another program with that kind of foundation.”

“We knew what their potential was and how they could potentially change the grade of U.S. cattle,” Beeman says. “We also understood the heart-health benefits of the beef, the profile of monounsaturated fats to saturated fats.”

Compared to conventional beef, Akaushi has a significantly higher ratio of monounsaturated fat to saturated fat, as well as significantly more oleic acid. Beeman believes this reality could have more value over time.

akushi heartbrand beef

In the meantime, Fielding says Akaushi represents an opportunity for individual producers to broaden their marketing options while increasing the value of beef to consumers.

So far, about 80% of HeartBrand beef goes to restaurants and 15% to retail stores. The remainder is sold directly through the company’s website. Unlike some other small branded-beef programs where the salesperson also delivers the product, HeartBrand has three full-time salespeople, and distribution through one of the nation’s largest food distributors.

“It’s the best branded-beef program I’ve been involved with, and the cattle enable us to guarantee the consistency,” Fielding says. He was with Excel when that packer developed the Sterling Silver brand. He also led the charge of branded-beef program development at the other companies mentioned earlier.

“They were all very good programs in terms of the upper two-thirds of Choice and improved consistency,” Fielding says. “At HeartBrand, I think we carry that another step forward with product consistency and DNA verification.”

In 2006, HeartBrand slaughtered 40 head each week. They’re harvesting about four loads weekly today.

“Realistically, I think we could be killing 50,000 head annually within five years, but it’s not about the numbers, it’s about the long haul,” Beeman says. “We just want to raise really good beef that fits the American system.

 

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