When Oregon ranchers Doc and Connie Hatfield learned that a nearby gym owner was looking for local sources of lean beef (no antibiotics or growth hormone allowed), they had an idea. What if they formed a co-op with neighboring ranchers to supply the lean-meat market with sustainably raised beef? Quickly, Country Natural Beef was born in 1986 with 14 ranch families. Since then, the co-op has grown—it now includes 80 family-owned ranches, offering Sysco customers some of the finest beef under Sysco’s Newport Pride Natural/Country Natural Beef brands.
Let Cows Be Cows
Country Natural Beef’s focus is on supplying meats of the highest quality and trim standards. True value, its ranchers believe, is based not on price but on yield, appearance and, most importantly, flavor. That makes Country Natural Beef—with its commitment to sustainability and high standards—a great partner with Sysco. All of the company’s cattle are 100 percent vegetarian-fed and hormone- and antibiotic-free. The ranchers are committed to animal welfare, allowing cattle to graze in a healthy way and prioritizing natural living. “We let cows be cows” is a guiding principle.
Country Natural’s ranchers believe that true value is based not on price but on yield, appearance and, most importantly, flavor.
The result: beef that is not only high quality, but also lean and natural. The meat features good marbling, from animals that are 24 months and younger. And Country Natural Beef remains rancher owned and controlled (even the co-op’s accounting and production folks are ranchers), so the co-op is nimble.“We can adjust to what the market needs,” says Stacy Davies, Marketing Director at Country Natural Beef. “If customers want something, we’ll increase supply to fill the need.” And because the ranchers own the co-op, more money returns to them and to the small, rural communities where they live.
Quality That Speaks for Itself
As a buyer, you can speak directly with the ranchers—and even visit the ranches. That’s exactly what Michael Johnson, Executive Chef for First & Goal Hospitality at Seattle’s Century Link Field, did for a week. Touring Country Natural Beef’s ranches in southeast Oregon, he was impressed by how they support sustainability. “I was amazed by the amount of attention they pay to the environment,” says Johnson, “and that it’s completely balanced between wildlife, livestock and grasslands.”
For Johnson, who orders thousands of pounds of the beef each year to feed hungry fans at Seattle Seahawks games, “it’s important for us to support sustainability, and to do business with a sustainability-minded company is to make an impact.”