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Meating Oklahoma's Needs

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Meat cuts in retail case

FAPC offers resources for meat processing opportunities.

Changes have been seen on a global scale for the past few months. As consumers learn to adapt and adjust to the outcomes of the pandemic, producers and workers in the meat industry especially have been impacted.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the meat industry has experienced shortages, while at the same time, consumer demand for meat, particularly beef, has increased,” said Jake Nelson, meat processing specialist at the Oklahoma State University Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center.

Nelson said individuals are coping with the shortages by considering the pursuit of their own ventures in the meat processing industry. These ventures include the direct purchase of beef from producers and processors, as well as developing new meat processing establishments.

“An increase in the direct marketing of beef from the livestock producer to the consumer has been observed,” Nelson said. “For this type of marketing experience to be successful, a critical middle party must be involved – the meat processor.”

There are many components to this process, and the average consumer might not have all the knowledge they need to reach the highest level of satisfaction with this interaction.

“The same lack of experience could prove to be detrimental to individuals seeking to open their own meat processing facilities,” Nelson said. “The planning process for this type of endeavor should include thoughts about the design and construction of the facility, purchase of necessary equipment, application for grants of inspection, creation of contingency plans, consideration of insurance plans and more – of which can quickly become overwhelming.”

With both the direct purchase of meat and the creation of a new facility, Nelson said, “Frustration and confusion can be greatly reduced by effective communication and education.”

What’s causing this increased interest? According to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, in addition to being part of the effects of the nationwide pandemic, public interest in the meat industry is growing due to the state’s CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund. The department has made available $10 million in grants for the Food Supply Stability Plan for Oklahoma meat processors.

“The grant money is an exceptional opportunity for our Oklahoma meat processing industry to add processing capacity,” said Blayne Arthur, secretary of agriculture. She adds the money will allow Oklahoma meat processors to build or expand their businesses and create additional meat processing capability within the state.

To help with the newly increased public interest on this topic, the FAPC team is providing several resources to eliminate confusion and help individuals succeed in the meat processing industry.

From fact sheets breaking down various scenarios to “Tech Talks” offering the information in a condensed version and even to sample floor plan and layout examples of meat processing facilities, the FAPC team has put together a one-stop destination to answer any questions individuals may have about the role they could play in the meat industry.

The information is compiled into a single webpage for easy access to links that can answer any questions on the topic of meat science. The online database is just one example of how FAPC is developing a research and extension program, emphasizing the aspects of further processing of livestock, poultry and aquatic muscle and solving short- and long-term problems relating to further processing and value-added products.

Visit FAPC’s Meat Science webpage to learn more about the direct purchase of beef, creation of a meat processing facility, contact information for FAPC’s meat science experts and more.

FAPC, a part of OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, helps to discover, develop and deliver technical and business information that will stimulate and support the growth of value-added food and agricultural products and processing in Oklahoma.

MEDIA CONTACT: Mandy Gross | FAPC Communications Services | 405-744-0442 | mandy.gross@okstate.edu

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