Wyoming pure markets beefWritten by Gayle Smith
With consumers becoming more concerned about how their food is grown and raised, and whether or not it’s safe to eat, Cindy Goertz can put their minds at ease – at least as far as the beef they raise on their family ranch is concerned. She isn’t afraid to tell the story of how the cattle are raised on the family operation, or answer questions about the safety of the product they produce. In fact, it’s her favorite part of the business.
Raising organic beef
Wyoming Pure, LLC is a small business owned and operated by the Goertz family. The Wheatland business is focused on promoting sustainable agriculture by selling their certified organic beef direct to their customers. The family has raised certified organic crops for more than 12 years, and first started raising organic beef in 2002. They started direct marketing their beef through Wyoming Pure in 2004.
“We saw there was a niche market for our beef, and we knew we could easily transition into it, so that is how we got started,” Goertz explained.
To produce organic beef, the cattle must go through a certification process and inspection through USDA, Cindy explained.
“Our cattle are certified organic from birth. They graze on certified organic grass and are fed organic hay during the winter. They are finished on certified organic grains raised on our farm and ranch. The cattle are never given synthetic hormones or antibiotics,” she said. “We manage our ranch in an eco-friendly manner and are dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture.”
When the family first decided to raise organic beef, they worked with a wholesaler who purchased the cattle and resold them through Whole Foods.
“We wanted to be more connected to our customers, so we decided to try to direct market our beef. We felt it lent more credibility to what we are trying to do,” she explained.
Learning the business
Since they started, there have been some bumps in the road, but Goertz is the first to admit she really enjoys the business and working with the customers.
“One of the best parts of this has been the interaction I have with our customers. They are curious and ask questions about what we feed, if the cattle are finished on grain or grass, how they are fed and where we get them processed,” she explained.
“I also like to explain that the difference between our beef and grocery store beef is the aging process,” she continued. “We dry age our beef, and that is different than what you buy in the grocery store.”
“Our beef is processed, and then it is placed in a temperature-controlled cooler where it is dry aged for 21 days. This process evaporates the moisture and concentrates the flavor in the beef to tenderize it naturally. It is a different process than what they use in grocery stores,” she explained.
Not always easy
The biggest challenge to selling the beef direct is knowing what cuts to have available.
“We try to have five or six head stored all the time. Sometimes, that is enough. Other times, we run out,” she said. “That is just how it goes.”
“We have to know so far in advance how many cattle to have ready. They have to be processed, aged and cut. We don’t always know what cuts people will want,” she explained.
“We sell a lot of halves and quarters,” she continued, “and we do know in advance on those. But we also sell a lot of small packages, and we never know if ground beef will be the hot seller this month or if it’s round steak. Some months, I have ground beef left over and some months I don’t have any. The biggest challenge is what to have and when.”
Goertz said ribeyes seem to be the most popular cut they sell, although T-Bones are popular during the summer months.
To overcome the challenge of selling less popular cuts, Goertz developed several package deals she markets through the Wyoming Pure website, and when customers call.
“I have found that customers like to purchase a variety. It keeps the price down and makes it affordable for them. One of our most popular packages is a Chug Creek Sampler, which has two ribeyes, two sirloins, two tenderloin fillets, three pounds of ground beef and one pound of ground beef patties,” she said. “We also have larger variety packages that have some of everything in it for a reasonable price.”
To help her customers prepare the beef, Goertz also includes brochures provided by the Wyoming Beef Council that has lots of good recipes. The brochures also show how to marinate steaks and cook different cuts.
The Goertz family has also worked with their processor to produce a consistent product.
“He has helped us a lot with the different cuts,” she explained. “We have also found how important it is to make sure the cattle are on feed for the right amount of time and have the correct finish when they are sent for processing. Keeping the cattle a consistent size has helped us produce a consistent product.”
The next generation
By diversifying into organic beef, Goertz said it has allowed her and her husband to bring the next generation of their family into the operation.
While Goertz takes care of the marketing and handles all the orders with the help of a part time employee, one of their sons takes care of feeding the cattle, taking the cattle to the processor and picking up the meat.
Her other son and daughter help package the orders and with shipping the meat. They also help promote the business at the various trade shows and farmers markets they attend each year.
As the business continues to grow, especially in the last two years, the family continues work toward a goal of direct marketing all their cattle through this program.
“It takes time,” Goertz is the first to admit.
“We want to grow, but we also want to make sure we maintain that personal customer service we can offer our customers now,” she said. “It is just something we all really enjoy doing.”