Buffalo herds encouraged to grow as bison marketers try to meet demand
WESTMINSTER, CO – With growing consumer demand outpacing the available supply of bison meat, the commercial marketers in the National Bison Association and Canadian Bison Association have released a joint statement outlining the steps now being taken to work with ranchers in both countries to “grow the herds” of buffalo in North America.
The statement adopted by the marketers last week acknowledges that the current tight supply situation creates challenges for retailers, restaurant owners and marketers alike, but stressed that the steps being taken to expand buffalo herds will require patience from all sectors.
The statement reads, in part, “Bison is not a commodity like poultry or beef. These commodity species have been selectively bred for rapid growth and yield. Bison were perfected by nature into a species that thrives in the ecosystem of our part of the world. We’re not going to tinker with that. However, this also means that it will take time for our producers to increase production to meet the demand.”
The statement notes that, even though sales of bison meat have doubled since 2005, the sector is still a small fraction of the meat marketplace. According to the statement, the 92,000 head of bison processed in the U.S. and Canada last year represented less than one-day’s production of beef in the U.S.
“Our associations today are working to ‘grow the herd’ of bison across North America by reaching out to producers who are weary of being a part of commodity agriculture,” the statement reads. “We are conducting workshops across the country on bison production, producing new materials to assist ranchers in making a transition, reaching out to lenders to finance bison operations, and even working with groups like the National FFA to foster a new generation of bison producers.”
The group developed the joint statement to help inform various participants in the marketplace that the industry is dedicated to expanding available supply, but will not compromise on the protocols that distinguish bison as a natural meat product.
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