Demand for local food sets Bay Area’s beef industry sizzling
Herd mentality: CEO David Evans is moving Marin Sun Farms into a new facility.
The Bay Area’s beef industry is experiencing a revival.
After nearly four decades of diminishing ranches, consolidated processing facilities and the growing dominance of corn-fed beef, consumers are once again developing a healthy appetite for free-range, grass-fed cattle. Local ranchers are expanding their small operations, bigger players are doubling in size and more competitors are entering the market — but it hasn’t been easy.
“We’ve grown dramatically,” said Loren Poncia, founder of Stemple Creek Ranch in Tomales, which sold five cattle when it first started in 2009. Now the family-owned ranch is supplying over a couple hundred cattle per year to several Bay Area Whole Foods stores and restaurants across the region.
“The only thing I need is more grass to grow my business,” Poncia said.
Other medium-sized players such as Magruder Ranch in Potter Valley, Marin Sun Farms in Point Reyes and Morris Grassfed in San Juan Bautista report that business is up. Operating on a much larger scale, San Francisco’s Estancia Inc., which is selling about 150 animals per week, said its business has doubled from last year. Oakland-based Belcampo Meat Co., opening its doors in Marin next month, is also creating a buzz.
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