MANHATTAN, KAN. – Kansas State University experts highlight the demand for direct-to-consumer meat processing.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the interest in locally processed meat continues to grow. 

“Kansas has seen an increasing demand for local, direct-to-consumer meat processing businesses,” said Dustin Pendell, agricultural economist for K-State Research and Extension.

From January 2020 to March 2022, the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) granted licenses to seven new custom meat processing facilities. 

“The KDA’s meat and poultry inspection staff have spoken with at least 82 individuals who have expressed interest in operating a new custom or inspected meat processing facility in Kansas,” said Jessie Vipham, assistant professor at K-State’s Department of Animal Sciences and Industry. 

K-State noted that it awarded a grant to Vipham, Pendell and Rachel Mui, an assistant professor of management in K-State’s College of Business Administration, to improve the capacity of meat processing businesses in Kansas.

“Ultimately, we hope to support small and very-small meat processors across Kansas, in terms of business expansion, business start-up and adoption of improved food safety practices,” Pendell said. “Specifically, we will conduct a needs assessment on the opportunities and constraints of small and very small meat processors when establishing or expanding a meat processing business.”

The project team plans to host five meetings around Kansas to discuss what they need going forward with small meat processors. 

“By working alongside local meat processors, we hope to better understand their needs from both industry-specific and entrepreneurial perspectives, and help them effectively address them, while identifying new opportunities and efficiencies at the same time,” Mui said.

Support for the project has come from the KDA, Kansas Meat Processors Association, Kansas Small Business Development Center and the K-State Research and Extension local food systems transdisciplinary team. K-State business students will also be involved.