A partnership that starts from ranch to grocery store has been spearheaded by the country’s largest retail store and has the potential to get more Angus beef to consumers.
Walmart has been working with 44 Farms, a Texas-based Angus seedstock operation, to create a branded beef program for the past year. The strategy was formally announced by Walmart on April 24 and includes the following cattle and beef businesses in the supply chain:
- Cattle will be sourced by 44 Farms through the seedstock operation’s newly created Prime Pursuits feeder calf program.
- Feeder cattle will be fed at Mc6 Cattle Feeders outside Hereford, Texas.
- Cattle will be processed at Creekstone Farms in Arkansas City, Kansas. The new venture is expected to create an additional 250 jobs for the packing plant.
- Further beef packaging will be done in Augusta, Georgia at FPL Foods. From there the case ready meat will be sent out to Walmart stores. FPL Foods expects to add an additional 200 jobs.
Walmart plans to market a number of Angus beef cuts such as steaks and roasts. Starting out, the new branded beef will be sold at 500 stores located throughout the southeast such as Georgia, Alabama and Florida.
“As clean labels, traceability and transparency become more and more important to customers, we’ve made plans to enter into the beef industry creating an unmatched system that allows us to deliver consistent quality and value,” says Scott Neal, senior vice president of meat for Walmart U.S. “By enlisting a number of best-in-class companies to take part in the supply chain, we’ll be able to provide customers with unprecedented quality, provide transparency throughout the supply chain and leverage the learnings we gain across our business.”
44 Farms has already been operating its own branded beef program since 2012 by buying feeder cattle back from customers who purchase Angus bulls from the seedstock business.
“No bigger paradigm change has taken place in the beef industry than what is happening with Walmart bringing truly high-quality, all-natural, no-hormones-added Black Angus beef to its customers. This bold vision gives Walmart a special place at the table by contributing to the most enjoyable and memorable moments in the lives of its customers,” says Bob McClaren, president and CEO of 44 Farms. “It’s been four generations since we began, yet the traditional values of the McClaren family and 44 Farms are as relevant today as they were more than a century ago.”
Cattle bought by 44 Farms for the Prime Pursuits program must meet the following parameters:
- No hormones added
- Predominately Angus Strong genetics
- Meet the USDA definition of Angus
- Weaned for a minimum of 45 days
- No more than 90 days age difference between the youngest and oldest calves in the group
- Subject to a minimal sort by a 44 Farms representative to ensure uniformity
Mc6 Cattle Feeders has previous experience feeding cattle for 44 Farms’ own branded beef program prior to the Walmart venture.
“Walmart has listened to its hard-working customers and taken on the monumental task of providing steakhouse quality, natural Black Angus beef to their local stores. This bold vision will not only elevate backyard barbeques and family dinner tables across the country, but transform the entire supply chain,” says Hank McWhorter of Mc6 Cattle Feeders. “Mc6 Cattle Feeders is honored to help make this vision a reality. Mc6 is a family business that has been feeding and raising cattle on the same land in the Texas panhandle for four generations.”
After being fed at Mc6 Cattle Feeders, cattle will be taken to Creekstone Farms for processing. The Kansas-based beef packer has been marketing its own branded beef lines since 1997. Creekstone Farms is the 12th largest U.S. beef packer and was bought by Japanese trading house Marubeni in 2017.
“Creekstone welcomes the opportunity to partner with industry leaders in providing premium quality Black Angus beef to Walmart customers while, at the same time, growing the number of jobs at our state of the art facility,” says Satoru Oura, president and CEO of Creekstone Farms.
FPL Foods has experience in “vertically integrated beef” through its own Châtel Farms brand and the company employs more than 600 people currently.
“Walmart’s ever-growing command presence in retail paints an optimistic future, one that proves beneficial for many involved,” says Francois Leger, president and CEO of FPL Food. “In addition to FPL employees, this will provide many opportunities for the Agriculture community to include farmers, ranchers and cattlemen alike. The positive impact will be felt by many.”