Pandemic Pricing Fallout

July 29, 2020

The Good News: Beef is fully stocked!
The Bad News: You're going to notice increased prices.

This Is Not Your Typical Marketing Announcement

In the regular world of commerce, I don't believe I've ever seen a company advertise a price increase. From a marketing perspective, it really doesn't seem like good business to draw attention to negative implications. But we're not in the regular world of sales. We are carefully growing premium food, with our own hands and hearts, and providing it directly to you - our extremely valued customers. Many of you we have known through years at the farmers market where we've enjoyed conversation on a sunny day or commiserated quickly on a soggy one. Others we have learned at least half your face as we navigate the new mask-wearing order pickup times. These relationships are personal. We want to know your face, your name and your story. And in turn we are your face-to-face farmers that you can see, trust, and talk to. Consequently, when something of significance affects the product we offer you, we feel the responsibility of the personal connection we have. And that is why, against sound marketing advice, we feel the need to draw attention to disappointing news and explain the background details.

As yet another consequence of the pandemic that is affecting so much of our world, our USDA butcher shop has seen significant cost increases in labor and supplies. They, of course, must pass on those costs to their customers - farmers such as ourselves. And the cost increase is not a few pennies. It has sent us delving into our spreadsheets, production records, cost analysis calculations, and hearts looking for any wiggle room in the numbers.

We are appalled at having to raise prices on food during a pandemic. But there really is no choice. After much number crunching we have found ways to absorb some of the increased butcher shop fees, but one of our overarching goals has always been to provide food at a fair price - which means there is not a large margin to work with.

There is hope that these price increases are temporary. In fact, the butcher shop has already been able to reduce their prices a little and that reduction is reflected in our current pricing. If the supply chain continues to stabilize, we have been assured that cost savings will continue to be passed along to the farmer. The butcher shop is also attempting to acquire pandemic relief funds that would directly affect the prices. Therefore we will re-evaluate the situation each time we pick up a new batch of meat from the butcher shop, and the pricing will directly reflect our actual costs. That is why the price increases are currently only on beef - which just went into our freezers yesterday.

Also, please be assured that we are constantly working towards a more resilient local food system - which from our perspective means more butcher shops that can process our products for resale. While we continue to have a good relationship with our current USDA butcher shop and, independent of the increased pricing, are happy with the quality of their service, they are one of only a couple such processors in the state. As we've pointed out several times recently, this is a fragile system both in our state and across the nation. The desire for a local option is significant, and One Straw Ranch is part of a working conversation that is moving towards a viable, implementable solution. The problem has been building for decades and the solution will not be immediate, but across the nation the fragility of the food system has been exposed and now is the time to move forward.

We are truly grateful to be a part of a community that values local, restorative agriculture. Thank you for coming along on this journey as we navigate the ever-changing complexities and joys of farming!

Charlotte Frederickson

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