Bison harvest doubles since 2001 as markets expand into retail chains

US - The bison market is growing rapidly, and although there are fewer bison ranchers in North Dakota, their herds are larger, according to Dieter Pape, the president and CEO of North American Bison Cooperative and North Dakota Natural Beef, LLC.
calendar icon 5 March 2007
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Pape was one of several presenters at the Bison/Tatanka Care and Culture Workshop held as part of the North Dakota Buffalo Association Winter Conference and Buffalo Sale in Mandan, N.D.

“There's actually less producers, but larger producers. They're increasing their herds,” he said.

Bison was big a few years ago, but it seemed to fade from the market. Now, however, the industry is growing at a rapid pace, he said.

The problem back then was a lack of the right marketing, Pape said. Bison was only being marketed into specialty areas such as restaurants a few years ago, and there wasn't a lot of room to grow. That's all different now.

“We're expanding into the retail area, and having great success, particularly in southeastern U.S.,” he said.

In fact, the National Bison Association has identified baby boomers, who pay particular attention to their health, are retiring and moving to places like Florida, and that is where the retail market is growing substantially.

“Our companies are actually marketing both nationally and internationally,” Pape said, adding it helps to market the bison and natural beef together, relying on already established retail markets as well as talking to new chains.

Based on numbers gathered from the National Bison Association in USDA and non-USDA slaughter plants, the harvest has grown 7 percent in the last year, and doubled since 2001, he said. “Our company has actually grown by 30 percent,” Pape said.

The North American Bison Co-op is one of four companies in the U.S. that own a major part of the market at 70 percent. Other than that, there are some local producers who slaughter from one to 10 animals and sell bison locally, he said.

Source: Farm & Ranch Guide
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