Any feeder or livestock hauler will tell you getting 36-40 head of finished cattle to market is a challenge enough. Now think of that same load coming out the other side of a packing plant as hundreds of different beef products that need to be carefully handled or risk spoilage.

When Sysco Charlotte was licensed to sell CAB last March, they wanted to make a BIG splash in the market place. Multiple semi-trailers were wrapped with company branding for roaming billboards throughout the Carolinas.

They have to get to the right restaurant or retailer under the right conditions, at the right time to get sold.

These things don’t just happen. Today we’re shining the spotlight on foodservice distributors: the people who get those thousands of different products from the packer or further processor into the hand of chefs across the country.

These folks are charged with the task of physically getting the meat from here to there, but it’s a lot more than figuring out trucking schedules or sourcing logistics.

For one, distributors must correctly assess demand and they must help create it. They work on education and menu creation, they help smaller restaurants figure pricing and in general provide a lot of support.

They also do further-trimming and packaging work for all those who don’t cut their steaks in-house.

“Our job is to merchandise as much of that product as we possibly can. I’m not taking the whole tenderloin and cutting it end to end in 4-oz. portions. That would produce very inconsistent steaks,” Ron Becker, president of an Arizona distribution company told me a few years back, explaining how they’ll market the smaller filets together and the center-cut filets together.

You would no doubt get paid less for your product if you didn’t have dedicated foodservice distributors on your side.

In 2011, Southern Foods Meat & Seafood (now a part of Pate Dawson Southern Foods) celebrated 25 years of partnership with our brand. Can you tell how much pride they take in our product?

The folks we work with know that it will cost them more to carry Certified Angus Beef ®. It comes at a premium, but they can also sell it for a premium. And they can keep customers coming the doors of the restaurants they serve.

Jay Riscky of Freedman Meats in Dallas told us earlier this year, “One thing our consumers are seeing is they just don’t want meat on the plate. When they are paying extraordinary amounts of money for beef right now they want eating experiences they don’t forget. We see that so many people when they leave the restaurant they forget about how much it costs; they just remember whether it was good or not.”

No beef is cheap today. His goal is to make sure his customers sell more beef. They’re going to do that by focusing on quality. Something worth noting, wherever you find yourself in this trip.

May your bottom line be filled with black ink,


Beef’s a Trip Archives:

Day 1: Starting at day one

Day 2: Who are these people?

Day 3: Stockholders

Day 4: The cowherd’s purpose

Day 5: Deciding to care

Day 6: Quality focus doesn’t have to skip the middleman

Day 7: Stocking for quality

Day 8: SOLD!

Day 9: What have you done today?

Day 10: Working together to make ‘em better

Day 11: Keep on truckin’

Day 12: Packers want quality

Day 13: The target

Day 14: Packers up close & personal

Day 15: It’s not all about the beef

Day 16: Further processors

Day 17: From here to there–and a lot more

Day 18: He’s on your team

Day 19: Beyond prices, grocery stores uncovered

Day 20: Getting quality in the carts

PS—Holly Spangler’s “30 days on a Prairie Farm” series goes on, but we’re not alone. Check out the full list of other folks blogging along with us for 30 days in November on her blog.