This fall, Seattle-based American Farmers Network (AFN), which specializes in grass-fed organic beef, is raising its public profile with a line of AFN-branded retail products.
For close to 20 years, AFN has mostly worked behind the scenes, providing product for top shippers and retailers that is packed under private-label and other banners.
The move comes at a time when “business is booming” for AFN, and when grass-fed organic continues to enjoy the highest percentage growth rates in the beef category, said Sanin Mirvic, AFN’s founder and CEO.
For the 15 years before COVID, Mirvic said, the grass-fed organic beef category growth averaged 22 to 27% annual growth. And after a pandemic-related lull, it’s picking back up where it left off. And the price of grass-fed, he said, continues to get closer and closer to conventional.
“A lot of growth is driven by consumers continuing to be more educated,” he said. “People are eating better, healthier. The East Coast is still a little behind the West Coast. A little more legwork needs to be done there.”
For years, the grass-fed beef industry was hurt by the perception that grass-fed beef didn’t taste as good and conventionally grown beef, said Kip Gruell, AFN’s vice president of sales.
For suppliers who brought in their grass-fed beef from other countries, the taste was indeed often different. But AFN has also sourced 100% angus beef raised in the US, Gruell said. And more and more people have learned that over the years.
“We don’t import – it’s another of our differentiators,” Gruell said. “We deliver on all the attributes, and on top of that we deliver on taste, and that’s what puts us over the top.”
“Very prominent” retailers are on board for selling AFN’s new branded line, which will feature seven of the company’s line of about 30 products, Mirvic said.
“We’re taking more control of our own destiny,” Mirvic said of the move into its own branded product. “Since we’re vertically integrated, there’s no reason not to.”
This article is an excerpt from the October 2023 issue of Supermarket Perimeter. You can read the entire Grass-fed feature and more in the digital edition here.