Sales Jump 12% Over Previous Year.

Sales of bison meat in restaurants and grocery stores jumped more than 12 percent last year, as the U.S. bison business neared $280 million in total sales at the retail and food-service level, according to information compiled last week by the National Bison Association.
 
The Economic Size of the Bison Business analysis is compiled each May by the National Bison Association, based on annual slaughter numbers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wholesale bison meat price report, and interviews with major bison marketers.  Because of the significance of state-inspected processing, the association only compiles the report after the USDA releases its annual slaughter report of state and federally inspected processing numbers in late April.   
 
According to the Bison Association's analysis, the sale of bison meat hit $278.9 million in 2013, compared to $248.3 million in 2012.        
 
Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association, said much of the increase in overall sales was the result of growing market penetration, and not higher prices to consumers.     
"The 57,200 bison processed in 2013 represented an 11 percent increase in the number of animals harvested over 2012," Carter said. "We are proud of this growth, but recognize that we will still be considered a niche product when compared to the major meat commodities."     
 
According to the NBA analysis, 45 percent of every dollar spent on bison meat in retail outlets or restaurants went directly back to ranchers who are restoring bison to range lands and pastures across the country.     
 
Carter noted, "According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average farmer and rancher in the United States receives less than 16 cents from the consumer's food dollar. We are pleased that nearly half of every dollar spent on bison flows directly back to the farmers and ranchers who raise the animals.
 
Carter noted that the association is encouraging existing producers to expand their herds, and for new producers to join the business, to keep pace with growing consumer demand.    

Information on purchasing bison meat, and raising bison as a business, is available on the National Bison Association website at www.bisoncentral.com. Shoppers wanting to know where to locate bison meat in their area can also download the free BisonFinder app for smartphones and tablets.