An increasing number of beef cattle producers have expressed an interest in understanding more about the emerging market surrounding naturally produced beef. Unlike organically grown beef which has a specific set of mandatory standards set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), natural beef only has a voluntary marketing claim standard that was established by the agricultural marketing service on Jan. 21, 2009. In short, the voluntary standard promotes the production of beef without the use of growth promotants, antibiotics, animal by-products or aquatic by-products.

The Noble Foundation recently conducted a survey of 32 companies that purchase and market naturally produced cattle. The goal of the survey was to discover the attributes that these marketing companies prefer in the naturally produced cattle they purchase and to obtain the price premiums being offered for cattle that possess these attributes. During the phone survey, marketing companies were asked a series of questions.

Several useful pieces of information were discovered. First, we found that 23 out of the 32 companies (72 percent) surveyed are classified as natural beef marketing companies. The other 28 percent of the companies that purchase naturally produced cattle are classified as feedyards. Second, these companies are scattered from the east coast to the west coast of the United States.

The results also show that 44 percent (14 out of 32 companies) of the businesses we interviewed were interested in purchasing naturally raised feeder calves. Of the interested companies, 85 percent (12 of the 14) wanted feeder cattle that weighed at least 600 pounds. In addition, 72 percent (23 of 32) of the businesses surveyed were interested in purchasing cattle at the point of finishing.

To read the entire article, link to The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.