KANSAS CITY, MO. – The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has left no corner of the US food industry untouched – meat processors especially. Stories of COVID-19 outbreaks among workers and the measures processors are taking to keep plants running and protect workers from infection have been prevalent since the pandemic began.
Specialty producers also have faced challenges brought on by the pandemic. Ask Jordan Beeman, president and chief executive officer of HeartBrand Beef in Flatonia, Texas, and he will describe the past five months as “like living on a wave” with plenty of ups and downs. But in the next breath, Beeman will say his company also has been fortunate.
HeartBrand Beef is the exclusive breeder and processor of Akaushi beef in the United States. Akaushi – “red cow” in Japanese – cattle raised by HeartBrand graze on a special mix of grasses in the open air and later move on to a grain formula. This combination results in highly marbled beef but with a fatty acid composition that has a positive ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fat and is a significant source of oleic acid, the same monounsaturated fat in olive oil.
In this week’s MEAT+POULTRY podcast, Beeman gives his view of the US beef industry from the perspective of a specialty producer trying to navigate the choppy waters of a pandemic.