One of the many ways COVID-19 has impacted the meal journey this year is how we get our meat. The pandemic illustrated the shortcomings of our over-consolidated supply chain and the inequalities experienced by the people working in industrial meat-processing facilities.
If there is a “fortunately” to be found at all with the pandemic, it’s that it has come at a time where there are more options than ever for people to buy meat directly from small farms.
Grass Roots Farmers Cooperative is one of those options. Founded in 2014, Grass Roots offers an online market where consumers can buy meat that comes from small farms. Based in Arkansas, Grass Roots mainly works with farms in the southern region of the U.S., but ships directly to the lower 48 states.
I spoke with Grass Roots Founder and CEO Cody Hopkins by phone this week, and he told me that business has been up 400 percent year-over-year for the company, which now has 25,000 customers and is on track to do $7 – $10 million in sales this year.
Part and parcel with consumers looking for new ways to purchase traditional meat is an increased desire for transparency in the supply chain that gets that meat to their door. To that end, Grass Roots has taken the extra step of integrating blockchain into its supply chain, so it’s products are tracked from the farm to the table.
Grass Roots is among a number of companies, including Butcher Box and Crowd Cow, offering online marketplaces for people to buy craft meat. The bigger question for companies like Grass Roots et. al. is whether its COVID-driven boom will last after the pandemic recedes (though the coronavirus certainly doesn’t appear to be abating anytime soon). Will people still want to buy online or avoid industrial farming when they can return to the grocery store?
Speaking for myself, I recently switched to mail order meat for staples like chicken and seafood, and the whole process has proven to be extremely convenient and price competitive with my local grocer. For me, mail order meats has actually transitioned into permanent behavior.