Meat processors say “local movement” remains strong

Leaders with the American Association of Meat Processors say demand for local meat remains strong.

President Darla Keisel with Dewig Meats in southwest Indiana tells Brownfield the COVID-19 pandemic pushed more consumers to explore local food options.

“COVID really highlighted the importance of knowing where your meat comes from and knowing how it is raised. We did expect to see a little bit of decline in that interest post-COVID, but quite frankly we have not.”

Treasurer Tom Eickman with Eickman’s Processing in northern Illinois says now consumers have built relationships with local farmers and processors.

“They don’t really have that relationship with a grocery store, but with producers they can grow a relationship, feed off of that and they will come back over and over.”

He says consumers also value the consistent quality of locally sourced meat.

“If you are into a good half a beef, you know every steak coming out of that freezer is that same beef, the same good quality that you got last time. There is no hit and miss. Sometimes when you go to the grocery store you will find a hit and miss, you’ll find really good product and the next time it might not be so good.”

Keisel and Eickman refer to this recent trend as “the local movement” saying it is one good thing that came out of the pandemic. They say higher demand has created some logistical challenges, but processors are adapting.

Brownfield interviewed Keisel and Eickman at the joint convention of the Illinois Association of Meat Processors and Indiana Meat Packers and Processors Association.

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