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Beef

Near the end of his first term, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead visited Taiwan to meet with the President of the country.

“He made a point of telling me I was the first Wyoming governor in Taiwan since Gov. Sullivan, which looked like an invitation to do more,” Gov. Mead says. “Since my visit there, we’ve worked in Taiwan and Wyoming to strengthen our relationship.”

When the country invited Mead and a small group to visit and talk about potential partnerships in early October 2017, a contingent of Wyomingites, including Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director Doug Miyamoto, Wyoming Business Council Director Shawn Reece, Wyoming State Senator Eli Bebout and Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna, traveled to Taiwan for a week.

Among the topics of conversation, Mead highlighted Wyoming beef.

“We wanted to promote trade broadly with minerals, but I really thought there was also an opportunity to focus on beef,” Mead says.

Magagna comments, “We see Taiwan as one of the most important countries in southeast Asia that could potentially be a strong market for Wyoming beef.”

Past and present

During his first visit to Taiwan, Mead was given the opportunity to look at their agriculture industry, and he also explored the grocery industry.

“They took me to a high-end grocery store, and U.S. beef was prominently displayed as a premium product,” he explains. “Then, in a special area behind thick glass was Idaho beef.”

“That always struck me, and it looked like a good opportunity to promote Wyoming beef,” Mead adds. “We have a very good beef product, and the people of Taiwan are really drawn to the Wyoming mystique and our reputation as the Cowboy State. They enjoy that our cattle are raised in the wide open spaces.”

The early October 2017 trip showed similar trends. During the trip, Wyomingites met with grocery retailers, high-end restaurants and trade institutes, among other groups, to develop partnerships and establishing relationships for future trade activity.

The group visited Taipei, the Taiwanese capital, and traveled to Taichung to meet with various officials in the agriculture industry.

“We found the Taiwanese people to be so hospitable and very committed to establishing relationships with the state of Wyoming,” says Magagna.

Additionally, Magagna cited that, while the country traditionally had consumed red meat at a low rate compared to chicken and other proteins, the demand for beef in the country is increasing, and Taiwanese consumers demonstrate a preference for U.S. beef.

“Today, they get a lot of their product from Japan,” Magagna says.

Marketing focused

Mead says there are several areas where Wyoming needs to “catch up.”

“We are falling behind by not having at least a part-time representative in Taiwan to promote Wyoming beef,” he says. “For instance, Idaho committed years ago to promoting beef, and we see that they have been successful in selling their product in Taiwan.”

To capture the market of 25 million consumers, Mead explains a committed representative dedicated to the process of capturing market space is necessary.

“Taiwan would be a great place to ship Wyoming beef to, and, if we can get a trade representative over there, they would be able to create relationships in other Asian countries, as well, to promote our product,” Mead says.

Magagna also mentions that cowboy lore, the natural beauty of Wyoming and the culture of the state are all potential marketing tools for Wyoming-branded products.

“The people of Taiwan view Wyoming as the Cowboy State. They see our beef as coming from wide open spaces where the number of farms and ranches is 11,000 and the average size ranch is bigger than across the United States,” he continues. “The way we raise cattle is also appealing to them, especially if we were able to keep cattle in Wyoming, have them processed here and shipped directly to Taiwan.”

Identifying beef

Mead notes that defining “fresh beef” is important for consumers along the Pacific Rim.

“In Taiwan and Asia countries, they emphasized that they wanted fresh beef, which they interpret as meaning no hamburger,” he says. “They want beef that is chilled without hamburger because that is the preference of the people in Asia.”

Identifying beef as from Wyoming is also vital to establishing trade programs.

“If we want to promote state-specific beef and all the attributes of our wonderful Wyoming beef, we have to have a way to show that it came from Wyoming,” he says. “I think there are opportunities for identification and development of process and slaughter in the state, both of which would be key steps in promoting our beef.”

While cattle ID raises questions and concern from some producers, Mead says that, if a market emerges that is interested in buying a large amount of Wyoming beef, identification would be necessary.

Ultimately, however, for producers to be interested in selling beef to Taiwan and taking extras steps towards identification, economic drivers must be in place.

“If we have nine bad years and finally one good year in the industry, ranchers want to get the best value they can,” Mead says. “But, if we look at the demand in Taiwan and Asia for not just beef but premium beef, I think there would be incentive for producers to get involved in a program that creates long-term relationships and good prices over multiple years.” 

Promoting ag

“I’m a big believer in Wyoming beef,” Mead comments. “Expanding trade and promoting Wyoming beef is good for the state of Wyoming.”

He continues, “We raise great products, and we have great cattle ranchers in the state. Ag is here through thick and thin to support our economy.”

Mead emphasizes, “We have to take advantage of the opportunity to promote and market Wyoming beef to a part of the world that would buy our product at a premium price for many years because of how it was raised and where is comes from.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Cody – David Fales, CEO and president of Wyoming Authentic Products, LLC, announced on Oct. 18 that USDA has certified the company’s new value-added meat processing plant, and production began on Oct. 21.

“It has been a dream of mine for many years to source high quality cattle from Wyoming ranches and market them throughout the U.S.,” Fales comments. “We are very much a Wyoming specialty branded beef product.”

In an effort to create a value-added, Wyoming-branded product, Fales recognizes that he has set lofty goals but hopes to bring recognition to Wyoming’s ranching industry and Wyoming beef.

All Wyoming products

Fales focuses on producing a premium, all-natural product sourced from Wyoming ranches.

“We source cattle from amazing Wyoming ranches,” he says. “They are all-natural Angus, and our affidavit says they must be at least 50 percent Red or Black Angus genetically. The cattle never receive any added hormones or antibiotics, and the ranches are audited by the Wyoming Verified program.”

The resulting cattle are born, raised and fed in Wyoming only. 

Because of the environment the cattle are raised in, Fales says the quality of Wyoming cattle is very high.

“Our environment offers high protein and hard grasses, and we get very high marks for quality,” he explains. “Our cattle are a tribute to every rancher in Wyoming.”

After Wyoming Authentic Products, LLC buys calves, the company feeds them at Torrington and ships them only two hours to the Pierce, Colo. plant.

“We think it is important for our product quality that it is only shipped 120 miles,” Fales explains. “It is less stress on the cattle.”

“It’s an all Wyoming, all-natural Angus product,” Fales adds.

Carcass focused

“We focus on the carcass,” he explains. “We try to get all the saleable beef off every carcass.”

Rather than focusing simply on higher priced cuts, like the prime rib, rib eye and strip loins, Fales also remarks that they trim as much product from every carcass as possible. 

Large companies, such as Cargill and Tyson, similarly focus on wasting as little as possible to retain value and enable continued production, he says.

“We have a marketing plan for the whole carcass,” Fales continues, “and that is something that will help us be successful.”

To help ensure that as much saleable product can be gleaned from each animal as possible, Fales explains that they try to efficiently use their resources.

From the beginning

“We started this company three years ago when we did our phase one test market,” explains Fales. 

The first phase utilized 100 cattle that were harvested at the Double J Meat Packing plant in Pierce, Colo. and explored the marketability of an authentic Wyoming-branded beef product.

Because of their smaller scale and USDA certification, Fales says Double J works very well for harvesting their cattle.

“There aren’t any USDA-certified slaughter plants in Wyoming,” he adds, “so we tried to work with a plant just outside our border.”

Additionally, Fales notes that Double J’s rinse and chill process drains the blood and cools the carcass very quickly, improving quality.

“We get very high marks in tenderness and flavor,” Fales explains. “We think Double J’s process adds to that.”

Delivering a product

Fales also notes that during his first year and phase one, he worked with USDA-certified value-added plants in southern Montana to produce their beef jerky, beef sticks, hamburger patties and other items but found the process challenging.

“They are good plants,” notes Fales, “but they also had other customers. Sometimes, it would be two, three or four weeks before I could get product.”

With orders scheduled for delivery to places like Albertson’s grocery stores, he realized that they would have to make a change.

“It became impossible to have it done elsewhere,” he says.

New plant

At that point, Fales approached Forward Cody, an economic development group that works with the Wyoming Business Council, for solutions.

“They told me about a community grant program,” Fales explains. “We submitted our application for funding in December of 2011 and received a $1.2 million grant in June 2012.”

The plant is completed and began production on Oct. 21. 

“This is solely a value-added meat processing plant,” clarifies Fales. “The next step, when we are successful and it’s feasible, is to perhaps build a slaughter plant.”

Currently, Wyoming Authentic Products, LLC’s operation is the only USDA certified value-added plant in the state.

Products

Wyoming Authentic Products, LLC produces and sells a wide array of beef products, from steaks to jerky.

“We will touch about 60 percent of all the saleable beef in our new plant,” says Fales. “We will make three flavors of Wyoming-branded beef jerky from the rounds and two flavors of beef sticks from the 50-50 and 85-15 trim.”

Their jerky is also an all-natural product.

“The jerky has no MSG. We use celery juice powder as our all-natural preservative versus nitrites,” Fales explains. “The all-natural preservative is also used in our beef sticks.”

Additionally, they offer hamburger patties, bulk ground beef, beef franks and steaks that will be processed in the new facility beginning in October.

Emerging markets

Wyoming Authentic Products, LLC aims to sell their product in a wide array of markets that have already emerged across the state and the U.S.

“We sell to restaurants and grocery stores through specialty and broad-line food distributors like SYSCO,” comments Fales, adding that the product is present in higher-end restaurants and grocery stores both in and outside of Wyoming. “We are served at high quality locations like the Yellowstone Lake Hotel, Big Sky Resort in Big Sky, Mont., in multiple locations in Jackson Hole and Cody and in a number of Colorado restaurants and retail grocery stores as well.”

A number of high quality restaurants in the Jackson Hole area also serve steaks and hamburger products from Wyoming Authentic Products, LLC.

Their samples, says Fales, are receiving great responses.

“Eight out of eight stores in Jackson and Denver, Colo. say they want to buy our new Wyoming All Natural Angus Beef Jerky and Beef Stick products,” Fales says. “In March 2013 in Anaheim, Calif. at the All-Natural Food Expo, lots of health foods stores showed interested in our product.”

The result of widespread interest in the products leads Fales to believe that the opportunities are numerous for Wyoming Authentic Products, LLC. At the same time, he is cognizant of the fact that it will be important to market the product they have available and maintain reliable supply.

“I’m optimistic in our future,” Fales comments, noting that his goal is to highlight the fine beef that many Wyoming producers provide. “I’m trying to bring recognition to Wyoming’s ranching industry and our high quality beef.”

Fales adds, “We’re giving our best effort to this company. I’m trying to leverage my heritage and experience to get this done.”

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


SIDEBAR:
Cattle background

Though he now serves as CEO and president of Wyoming Authentic Products, LLC, David Fales has a strong connection to Wyoming’s cattle industry.

“I was born and raised in a cattle feeding operation outside of Cody,” says Fales. “My ancestors homesteaded in 1918.”

Fales notes that while the family also farmed, cattle feeding was a large part of his life.

After leaving the farm to go to college, Fales says that he built a career in the food service industry.

“I spent 30 years of my career from California to Boston in the food marketing industry,” he continues.

As an executive at multiple large-scale food companies across the U.S., Fales says, “I’m a native Wyomingite, and I’ve been blessed with wonderful experience in some substantial food companies.”

The result of his experience, says Fales, provides him with skills and experience to be successful.

“I loved my upbringing, I love Wyoming, and I’m so respectful of my grandparents, great-grandparents and every settler of the state,” comments Fales.