Master’s Thesis Defense - Emma Strong - April 30

Date: April 30, 2015
Location: Natural Resources - RM 338

Exploration of the Local Grass-fed Beef Middle Value-chain in Lower Northwest Michigan
Master’s Thesis Defense

by Emma Strong

April 30, 2015
10 a.m.
Natural Resources, room 338


The role of grass-finished beef in the local food movement of northwest Lower Michigan is growing with the concomitant value chain evolving both in scope and size. It is clear that demand for locally raised beef is increasing and there are a growing number of producers raising grass-finished beef and selling directly to consumers. However, there is little knowledge and literature about the middle part of the value chain. As processors, distributors, restaurants, and retail establishments are all essential in the chain of transforming cattle on farm to the products consumers purchase, it is important to explore their role in the local grass-fed beef market. This mixed methods study used survey data as well as in-depth interviews to assess the middle of the value-chain of local grass-finished beef in northwest Lower Michigan.

The local grass-fed beef middle value-chain has developed strong relationships, sharing many personal values and working together to build committed, flexible, supportive, and trusting partnerships. Maintaining clear and open communication and transparency have proven to be the biggest hindrance to developing productive relationships. Although the grass-fed beef market in northwest Lower Michigan is growing, the middle-value chain faces a number of barriers to market success, including inconsistent and inadequate supply, high prices, knowledge within the middle-value chain, infrastructure development, and consumer expectations that have been structured around the conventional market.

Committee Members:

  • Dr. Matt Raven, Chairperson
  • Dr. Laurie Thorp
  • Dr. Jason Rowntree