Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Sending Whole/Half Pigs in NYC

This week, we are sending minimally broken pigs to DeBragga and Spitler (of New York City). The pigs and other meat will all leave Missouri chilled.

One pig is going to one of April Bloomfield's restaurants. The half pig is going to a fancy restaurant in New Jersey.

I hope they are ready to process their pigs. A lot of chefs aren't prepared to process a Mangalitsa pig, because it is so different. A lot of chefs buy once and then stop, because they don't have the skills to make money off a pig.

We're minimally breaking the pigs so that they can go into boxes. The boxes will be labeled so that on the other end, they can be reassembled. That's a bit how the internet works - information gets broken up into discrete pieces and reassembled.

What appears inefficient or fuel intensive isn't.

When a refrigerated truck moves down the road, carrying 40,000 pounds of food, it achieves spectacular efficiency.

In contrast, if a guy lives in New York state and fattens a pig for a New York restaurant, and had to take that one pig to slaughter, and then take the one carcass to the restaurant, keeping it cold the whole time, the cost , in fuel, time and money to distribute that one pig is a lot higher than if you take 20 pigs (or better yet, 150) in to a slaughterhouse in MO, get the pigs killed, cut up, boxed and distributed via less-than-truckload freight.

If you do things illegally - e.g. raise pigs out back the restaurant, kill them out back the restaurant and drag them into the kitchen for processing - you can be more efficient than using modern logistics. But that's impossible in New York City.

Thanks to working wtih DeBragga and Spitler - a company that can buy thousands of pounds of high-end meat at a time, it is possible to achieve some efficiency and reduce our prices, increasing demand.

This hints at why the meat business is so prone to consolidation. The bigger you can get, the more efficient you can be.

You see the same thing with meat distribution. Once you've got a sales, distribution and storage network, adding new products is no big deal. A small distributor, starting out with just a few products, is at a huge disadvantage - he's got to have a sales, distribution and storage system, yet he can only amortize it across a small volume. And some customers value convenience - e.g. being able to order everything from one vendor - which puts small distributors at a huge disadvantage.

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