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October 20, 2018

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The Cost of Buffalo Meat

About a month ago, we raised our buffalo meat prices. The costs are driven by supply and demand which affects the market price for buffalo set by the USDA, and also other inflationary costs associated with raising an animal and ending up with a consumer ready - packaged product.

We heard from some of you on this price increase and we also had the opportunity to discuss it with you further, explaining that our price increase was absolutely necessary. We wanted to offer all those interested in knowing the costs of Wild Idea’s buffalo meat, the same transparency. 

The current USDA price for bison meat on the rail (an animal carcass) is $4.80 per pound. This price is based on grain-finished animals, as there are not enough grass animals to have a USDA data baseline. We add a sliding percentage to the USDA price based on animal weight and because of our higher criteria standards, which include; 100% pasture grass-fed/grass-finished, land stewardship through holistic ranch management, and protection of species.

Antelope

To further understand the costs, it is also important to understand the salable meat of an animal. We typically harvest animals that are between two and three years of age and the weight breaks down to the following:

A 1,000-pound animal = a 500-pound carcass, which = a yield about 340 pounds of salable meat. Of that salable product, 240 pounds of it becomes ground meat. Comparatively you get 6 to 8 pounds of tenderloin, and around 20 pounds of ribeye per animal.

Our insistence of a humane field harvest also requires a separate crew of four to five workers and includes, a truck driver, sharp shooter, and butchers. The carcasses are then transported back to our plant, where a team of artisan meat cutters, sausage makers, and packagers turn those carcasses into consumer-ready, meat products.  Once the product is in the package, there are still two other departments between the product and the consumer; our sales and shipping teams. Plus, there are the expenses necessary to run a business.

Anyone who has ever been in the food industry knows that it is one of the lowest margin businesses in the world. And, even though we consumers spend  20+% less on food than what we did 70 years ago, we ironically still have strong opinions about it. We also get excited when food is cheap: “Five for a dollar!” “Eight bucks a pound!” “Buy one get one free!” We keep our focus on the upfront cost, without looking at the back-end costs of; prairie plow up, species loss, unhealthy soil and water, unhealthy animals, unhealthy food, and so on. The IOU is coming, and someone will have to pay.

Still, it is difficult to wrap our minds around food costs. Recently we received this question, “I just don’t get it, if you don’t have all of those inputs of additional feeds and corn, or, trucking to slaughter facilities, or hauling food to the animals, and your animals are just walking around eating grass, why is your meat more expensive?” Fair enough question. First, the feeds are subsidized by you the taxpayer. Second, for all the reasons mentioned above. And third, you must consider the land health and the land cost. Dan states, “When I bought my first ranch in South Dakota in 1970, the cost of land was $270.00 an acre. When I bought the first chunk of ground on our current ranch it was $400.00 an acre and now land is going for over $1,000.00 an acre. On the Great Plains mixed grass prairies, it takes about 35 acres per buffalo.  The only way to bring back the buffalo is to grow our land base. For me this is about conserving and protecting a threatened ecosystem. We simply can’t afford to loose our prairie’s.”

We should also be reminded that 90% of the buffalo meat that is raised for our food supply is finished in the cattle feedlot system. To compare these two different end products is like comparing apples to oranges. And, not just in taste, but also in the trickle down affects it has on the health of the land, water, animals, our food supply, and us.

At Wild Idea we take your comments and complaints very seriously and always try to make it right by you, as we know you have taken the time to sustainably source your food and that you have paid a fair price for the product.

We are very aware that we have a product that is not cheap and we are listening to you. Although a price increase was absolutely needed to keep our company going, we are trying to figure out how we can offer you a break without it breaking us.

We do occasionally offer bundles with free shipping and discounts when we can. So - if you have moved away from us due to price, we hope you stay connected - as there may be an offer that works for you. 

This weekend we are offering you a 15% savings on our Ground Buffalo products. It’s a must have staple that can be turned into so many meals.

Please know that we will continue to do our best for you in every way, including pricing. We truly appreciate your support, not just for our company, but also for caring where and how your food is raised. Together, one bite at a time we can make a difference.  Thank you.


Comments

Maureen

October 20, 2018

Thank you for the transparency, I support your cost increase. And even though I am not by any means well off, I believe that food, especially meat should be raised in a healthy sustainable environment and have always been willing to pay the money. I respect
And honor all the farmers and ranchers who follow this practice

Jeannette Hall

October 20, 2018

Great article of explanation of meat prices. I for one am willing to pay the price of your meat. We live in Central Oregon where there are three bison ranches within driving distance of us. One of them is trying to do it right, not sure about the other two. However, the taste of the meat that I’ve gotten locally is not even comparable to the amazing taste of Wild Idea meat. I so appreciate your transparency in all your blogs about the ranch, from beginning to end. I could buy bison locally but I purposely order from you because I know the quality is superior. Thank you for all your hard work of taking the care of the land and the bison back to where it originated. Also, as you mentioned, you often have sales that help cut down on cost. That is how I buy the majority of all the meat I buy from Wild Idea Buffalo Co. A big “thank you” to all your staff.

Angela Anderson

October 20, 2018

Hi Dan and Jill,
Thank you for this explanation. It is difficult to explain the real cost of eating read meat if it is grown holistically, in a world that is only thinking on how to get the most for your buck not thinking hard enough what it takes to grow it responsibly. Whoever said that growing our food is cheap. I rather spend my money eating ‘clean’ food and stay away from the healthindustrie. The above statistic provided shows clearly where we are headed.
To me Wildidea is the only supplier I know that does what it takes to consider the big picture and operates holistically. To me industrial agriculture such as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations(CAFO) is the most destructive to natural resources and people. Mass production of food has not served us well and we need to rethink and act on the way we grow our food. The movement is growing as people become more aware of eating local and organic, but we still don’t have the critical mass and I hope it will not be too late.
I will stick with Wildidea because there is no other game in town
Thanks Dan and Jill
Angela

Loey Lukens

October 20, 2018

Thanks so much for the explanation. I will continue to buy your meat – for so many reasons.

Willadee Hitchcock

October 20, 2018

I work in the water industry, and we are experiencing similar discontent around the costs of water. One only has to tour a single water treatment plant to recognize the enormity of inputs that go into making water fit to drink. Food is the same. Unfortunately we have come to think of food in terms of the dollar amount, rather than the quality. And, it takes a lot to create a quality product. Other producers can go cheaper, because they cut corners, and a decline in our health has resulted. I will continue to support Wild Idea because the quality is unequalled and the humane treatment of animals trumps all for me. We’re proud to tell our friends and family where our food comes from.Thank you for doing what you do.

David Bauer

October 20, 2018

Thank you for your transparency, concern for the land and the animals on it. I know more about the meat I buy from you than any other food I consume. For all of these reasons your buffalo is now the only meat I eat in my home

Robert Hiatt

October 20, 2018

I certainly would not quibble with the arguments you make to justify the prices you charge for your products. I find them compelling. But I wish to focus particularly on the hugely important work you are doing in land conservation. My guess is that there’s an economist somewhere who can assign a value for this work to each pound of buffalo you sell. I do not pretend to have this competence, but I have witnessed first hand what happens when this work is not done. During the quarter century I lived in SD, the price of wheat rose high enough a number of times to tempt West River ranchers to tear up their land to plant it. A couple of times, there was a nasty convergence between the price of wheat and drought (West River – the area west of the Missouri River – is semi-arid to begin with). I recall seeing the ditches on either side of two lane highways filled to the brim with soil blown there from the drought-stricken and torn up land. Even failing such dramatic circumstances, in this area, it is not difficult to spot gullies cut into the ground where native grasses are missing. In short, the conservation work you do is, in my opinion, invaluable.

Dan Page

October 20, 2018

Great article, thank you. Naturally-produced meat is more expensive, but also more dear. Grass fed flesh is different food than standard, restaurant burger. Those animals are unnaturally fed in giant lots, the animals dosed with heavy doses of antibiotics, standing around on hills of their own waste. There is a reason that photographing a large slaughter house is illegal – their practices are unethical and not safe.

I have a background on a cattle ranch in Bennett County, and the experience made me seek grass fed beef and buffalo. Wild Ideas has the best product on the market. Better for one’s health than prescription meds and vitamins, I am here to attest. I will continue to shop Wild Ideas and rest assured knowing that your claims are true. Trust in a merchant is critical. I know you’re not cutting corners in the raising or processing of your animals, and it keeps me coming back.

Well, I better get my pot of chili started, the recipe based on – what else? – a pound of lean grind buffalo burger!

Anthony Earthen

October 20, 2018

Wholeheartedly expressed! Thank you for sharing such poignant truths. Your products are still the best deal around!

Sue Thomas

October 20, 2018

Thank you for your integrity.

Linda Clark

October 20, 2018

Our food is only cheap when we pass the true costs onto the environment, not to mention the inhumane costs put on the backs of those who labor in meat-packing plants or our fields. I am glad to see the chart showing how food costs are way down from decades ago. And,hmmmm, health care costs are up—suppose there ia any link there? The best medicine you can take is food raised organically and holistically.

Liz Aicher

October 20, 2018

I appreciate so much your detailed explanation of what it takes to get your buffalo to my table. It IS expensive, but worth every penny in a tender, delicious, pure product. As a person who worked in the restoration of woodlands, wetlands and prairies, I know how important it is to ensure that these ecosystems are protected and used in the manner in which they were for many, many years before we arrived on the scene. Thanks for restoring the prairie, thanks for reintroducing the buffalo to sustain the prairie, and thanks for Wild Idea Buffalo.

WALTER A HEBERLEIN

October 20, 2018

I get it and appreciate your explanation. However, the prices have now caused me to cut back. For example, I have been buying your 5 oz sirloins. They used to be about $10 each. Now about $13. I’m retired and don’t have a huge asset base or income stream. So I will be going for the lowest priced items and buy less of the rest. Buffalo isn’t the only meat I eat but is mainly any red meat I eat. I’m sure there will be others who will make up the difference.

Bill O'Brien

October 20, 2018

Dan & Jill
Thanks for taking the time to present the information associated with raising a grass fed product vs a grain fed product. You can most certainly feel the difference and I can taste the difference. I have been and will continue to be a customer.
Best
Bill O’Brien

Toni Hamner

October 21, 2018

It is all about the education, and you are real educators.
From the written word to the photographic essays and including us in the Wild Idea Buffalo family, we, your customers are invested in you, the mission and the philosophy behind Wild Idea because of the purity of the messaging.
Stay true,
Toni

Scott Sedam

October 21, 2018

A well-done, calm and compelling explanation. I would like to use that chart in a presentation but folks will ask, “What is the source of that data?” Fair question. I want to preclude that by including the source right on the chart I am making. Can you help me out? Thanks.

John Hershey

October 21, 2018

This is very interesting. Thank you for the explanation. I have hesitated on buying from you due to cost but when I read your story, it makes me more interested in supporting your business. Keep up the good work.

Michael Huwaldt

October 21, 2018

Dan, Jiill and all,
You will always have my support in every way. I totally believe in your philosophy and your product. You make the world a better place for us all.
Keep up the good work.
Micael

Mark Holloway

October 22, 2018

If some how you could have cheaper shipping rates, that would help.

conni borwick

October 22, 2018

I don’t know how to post on your blog but I wanted you to know I understand completely your need to raise prices. your product to me is so far and above anything because of your treatment of the animals and the plains. I did not eat meat for 25 years, yours is the only meat I will eat. I hope you can sustain what your doing ! someone in the country has to care about our world:)

Bruce Green

October 22, 2018

Thanks for your illuminating explanation. Love what you are doing there on the prairie. Had placed my second order a few days ago.

Keep up the good (great) work.

🤗

Doug Studer

October 22, 2018

I appreciate your transparency and support what you are doing. That being said, whever I see a justification of “supply and demand” for an increase, it comes across as “because we can” and begins to undermine the integrity of the argument. As I said, I am a fan and supporter and I believe your rationalization stands up well without the sales jargon. Just a perspective from a brander.

Denis Harden

October 22, 2018

Dan and Jill;

Quality food may cost a little more but it is worth it in the long run. My wife and I have been purchasing your products because they are healthy as well as tasting great. We appreciate your concern but we know that we are still getting the best for our money.

Thank you

Denis
Susan

October 22, 2018

The dollars are a lot, but what I am buying from you, when I do, is restoration of the great plains, habitat for birds and other native species, peace of mind, and a healthful meal or two. Ergo, I don’t mind the price. We try to eat less meat for a healthier planet and healthier us, but we are still meat eaters, and Wild Idea meat is worth the price, for all of the above and for the taste. Thank you.

Donald Gilbert

October 22, 2018

Thank you so much for sharing that with us!

Eve Crispin

October 22, 2018

I really appreciate your patience in trying to explain why REAL FOOD costs more, specifically your bison. Our food system is so screwed up and people are so tricked that it is hard for most to understand what the reality is. And, as you point out, there are so many nuances to the equation that most people don’t understand the apples to oranges comparisons they make.
I prefer to pay the farmer rather than the pharmacy. I prefer to support our earth. I prefer to respect the animals that give their lives to sustain us.
I thank you and commend you and I hope you keep up your work. I will keep buying your products.

Carolyn

October 22, 2018

We have been customers of Wild Idea for almost 3 years and have been very satisfied. Early on we were impressed with the quality of the pacing materials you use: sturdy boxes, lots of insulation we thought that was so smart to take that expenses and care in shipping. We sell and buy on the Internet and I have gotten so tired of how people cut corners in the very basic things which make a business. Now your product, it is economical to eat Buffalo meat since it is very filling, a small steak or fillet goes a long way. The corn based feed which is given to cattle, buffalo and other animals has a lot of sugars which stimulate the appetite and make a person want to eat more. It is unhealthy. Some guidelines I see recommend a serving of 3-5 ounces of meat a serving of red meat. Which is perfect for your petite steaks and fillets. There are ways of shopping to avoid shipping fees: I usually buy a bundle to get free shipping and add a few things or add a few thing up to make 250. Min to get the free shipping as a base.I try to shop more or less quarterly. A large outlay at one time but over the course of that time it works out. I like everything about WildIdea I have less guilt about an animal being slaughtered for my dinner, I like the restoration of the Prairie and I think the whole operation shows it was because it is a coherent whole well thought out operation, humane and kind. Also the essays. My fear is that it will change but I will enjoy using as long as I can. Thanks so much for your business. (sorry this is so long)

Mark Moench

October 22, 2018

Thanks for the article and explaining your process and integrity. Between your bison and my brother’s venison from Iowa we get treated to some of the best red meat in the country!! Thanks again and Cheers, Mark & Cynde

Dave Iverson

October 22, 2018

I will continue to buy your meat because my daughter,Emma works there!!!👍

Gary Kaiser

October 22, 2018

I think about the cost of my health care when I walk down the sugar laden isles at the grocery store. I think about the emergency rooms we crowd from the unbelievable number of fast food joints that are truly serving heart attacks and strokes at bargain prices. I think about the gagging smells from ugly feed lots that slaughter cattle pumped full of antibiotics with high stress levels. I think about the damage to our environment, that many of our “factory produced food” plants, is creating. I know of no other product your except grass fed bison that is doing more for my health and for the environment, The cost of your product is well worth it and will pay me and our environment dividends in the short and long run. Keep it going!!!

dawn garcia

October 22, 2018

SO, I don’t even eat animals, mostly because of the industrial cruelty and environmental degradation to the planet. But I thoroughly support your science, efforts, and actions to promote a healthy ecosystem, fast death to the animals and best health to animals and people. One day I might consider trying your products. In the meantime, I support and share your kindness and products. Thanks for doing things right for animals, people, planet.

Chris Roberts

October 22, 2018

What you do for the environment, the social fabric, and still make it happen financially can be described in one way as in the link below.

Thank you Dan and Jill and everyone at Wild Idea who make us all very happy!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_bottom_line

Leeanne Shannon

October 23, 2018

Thank you for your explanation of costs. I have long admired your principles and your care for the environment. Our family will continue to support your business as often as we can financially, but in theory, our support is always there.

Janis l Fitschen

October 23, 2018

I don’t suppose it is possible to purchase one acre of land to donate to yours ??
Just a thought.
Your diligence and integrity give hope. And kudos to the writer of this last article so
well said.

Jeannette Sieland

October 24, 2018

Yes, the cost of your meats have risen. It DOES cost SO mush more to raise healthy & wholesome animals that we all end up consuming.
Unfortunately the way the country as well as the Earth has been treated for centuries, we in the NOW as well as the future are & will pay the price for thinking that all is infinite. It isn’t. No clean water. No clean land. No clean foodstuffs of any sort.
Keep up the terrific works you are doing. Maybe one day others will follow suite.

Jon & Julie Kramer

October 25, 2018

Anyone who eats beef should be required to drive slowly south on Interstate 76 out of Ft Morgan, Colorado or on US 54 south of Liberal, Kansas on a hot summer day with the windows open. I guarantee the stench of the putrid feed lots will make you hurl your lunch! And it carries on for mile, after mile, after stinking mile. It should be a crime to treat ANY animal the way we allow cows, and pigs, and chickens to be treated. God bless you for giving the animals and the Earth the respect they deserve.

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