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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 speak with some of 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 lose our prairies.”

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. 

Our ground buffalo meat products are super user friendly and a must have staple that can be turned into so many delicious & healthy 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, we can make a difference, one bite at a time.  Thank you.

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37 comments

  • Helli WIB,
    Your Buffaloe Priduct sounds good.
    Wild is full of a wide selection of healthy nutrients and flavour.
    Food of Grasses and Herbs and Tree Barks, that the Animal chooses as it grazes on more open territory. I’m looking forward to trying your Wild Buffaloe.

    I did Global Relief Work for several years in Africa, where I had the Gourmet Opportunity to eat various Wild Game as well as Massai Cattle Beef.
    Massai Cattle are never forced to run, as we so readily scare our cattle to do in North America. So Massai Beef is very tender, as well as having a semiwild, delicious flavour, due to Herds always living in the wild, feeding on whatever they choose, of various grasses, herbs and what else they might delight in.
    Massai People are gentle with their animals.

    I simply wanted to share this with you, as you are also appreciative of Healthy, Delicious, Free-Range Meat.
    Best success with WIBuffalo.
    CCR

    Carmen Charles Rudd
  • 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.

    Jon & Julie Kramer
  • 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.

    Jeannette Sieland
  • 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.

    Janis l Fitschen
  • 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.

    Leeanne Shannon
  • 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

    Chris Roberts
  • 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.

    dawn garcia
  • 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!!!

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

    Dave Iverson
  • 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

    Mark Moench
  • 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)

    Carolyn
  • 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.

    Eve Crispin
  • Thank you so much for sharing that with us!

    Donald Gilbert
  • 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.

    Susan
  • 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
    Denis Harden

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