Innovation in Sustainable Supply Chain: Burgerville
By Lee van der Voo, Sustainable Business Oregon
Sustainable Business Oregon
Jeff Harvey, CEO of Burgerville, says local sourcing is a business value.
Burgerville’s commitment to quality, local food has amounted to stability for farm families and boosted returns in the berry industry.
The company sells burgers made with pastured, vegetarian-fed and antibiotic-free beef at its 39 Pacific Northwest restaurants and also offers seasonal fare like blackberry milkshakes and onion rings made from Walla Walla sweet onions.
The offerings lead to consistent, dependable sales for family farms, keeping some in business and allowing financial security for others.
“The most important impact to us is the impact on the local farmers, ranchers, orchards and so on, and we know because we build those relationships intentionally so we get feedback from those folks on a pretty regular basis,” said Jeff Harvey, president and CEO of Vancouver, Wash.-based Burgerville.
Mellie Pullman, who teaches food supply chain management as a professor at Portland State University, explains that while there is high demand for quality beef cuts from restaurants and grocers, it’s Burgerville’s demand for ground beef that’s supporting 120 ranch families who supply it.
“Burgerville makes it so that they can sell a whole animal,” said Pullman. “If they didn’t have Burgerville as a partner, they would be struggling with what to do with the ground beef.”
Pullman notes as much as half an animal remains after butchering has produced steaks. The high volume of resulting ground beef is too much for grocers alone, particularly because it commands a price shoppers may not pay. Burgerville buys almost all of that supply, solving a critical problem for ranchers. The company’s demand on the persnickety berry industry is similar.
Lee van der Voo, lvdvoo*at*gmail.com, is a freelance writer for Sustainable Business Oregon.
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