Michigan Meat Processing Infographic Report


July 14, 2015 - <bielacz1@msu.edu>, Jeannine Schweihofer, Steve Miller, <bielacz1@msu.edu>

This infographic report is a visual guide to findings from the 2014 Michigan Meat Processing Capacity Survey. It includes information like:

  • where meat processing happens in Michigan,
  • how meat processors source and sell their products,
  • basic business statistics, top challenges for meat processors, and
  • an annual calendar of meat business activity.

Report Authors:

  • Noel Bielaczyc, Food Hub & Meat Supply Chain Specialist, Center for Regional Food Systems, Michigan State University
  • Jeannine Schweihofer, District Extension Educator Beef/Livestock MSU Extension
  • Steve Miller, Assistant Professor in Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics MSU
  • Rich Pirog, Director, Center for Regional Food Systems, Michigan State University

This publication was produced with the support of the United States Department of Agriculture’s, Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (USDA AFRI), AFRI award number 2014-68006-21870.

Text from the infographic:

This survey was developed to capture the state of the meat industry in Michigan, excluding poultry. Surveys were distributed via mail or email to 402 known meat processors throughout Michigan including meat packers, whole- salers, retail markets, and butchers. 111 surveys were returned and analyzed (28% response rate). This data visualization does not represent the Michigan meat industry as a whole, but rather illustrates a snapshot of survey respondents. 

Survey results indicate that meat processing operations in Michigan are diverse in size, age, business structure, and capacity. Michigan meat products flow through a variety of value chains with meat processors connecting livestock producers to end markets. The term “value chains” refers to a business model in which producers and buyers form collaborative partnerships with other supply chain actors to enhance financial returns through product differentiation, such as “local” or “pastured” meats. While survey respondents indicated that fresh boxed meat was the most common method of purchasing raw materials, nearly half (41%) said they slaughter livestock. Of these, fewer participate in specialty slaughter including certified organic (11%), Halal (6%), and Kosher harvest (5%). The survey shows that 94% of respondents produced cooked or heat-treated products; only 6% did not. The proportion of Michigan-sourced meat and livestock sourced by processors, and the amount of meat products sold in Michigan markets, demonstrates the importance of small and mid-sized meat processors to the viability of Michigan’s meat and livestock value chains.

The majority of meat processors in Michigan are small or very small, and retail exempt operations are the most common. Retail exempt status allows shops and restaurants to trim, cut, grind, cure, and otherwise process and sell retail meats without daily Federal inspection. Custom exempt operations may slaughter and process livestock without USDA inspection, but the product can only be consumed by the owner of the live animal, their family, and non-paying guests. Federal USDA inspection allows processors to sell meat through a variety of channels including retail, wholesale, and export markets. Michigan is one of 23 states that do not operate a state inspection program. 

Michigan’s meat processing industry is greatly impacted by seasonality. Livestock harvest peaks in September and lulls January through June. County fairs and the opening of white–tailed deer season may also increase lead time for scheduling livestock slaughter. The survey shows that most operations employ less than five individuals and must hire additional help during the peak processing time from late summer through fall. Despite challenges, survey respondents reflect an optimistic outlook for their businesses with potential for growth in Michigan’s meat industry. Many farmers choose to harvest livestock in the fall when animals are at their fattest. This also saves them from  feeding animals through the winter. The seasonal boom and bust cycle of meat processing in Michigan creates a significant challenge for operations that wish to recruit and retain qualified and talented workers on a year-round basis.

The full 2014 Michigan Meat Processing Capacity Final Assessment Report is available at: https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/mi-meat-processing-report



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