Angus Pure in the US Market

By Daimien Reynolds

Totaranui is proud to be an Angus Pure partner. Angus Pure has done so much for New Zealand Angus quality beef, not only in promoting our prime beef domestically and internationally, but also in their part in galvanising other meat companies to start their own premium beef programmes, thus benefitting breeders beyond just the Angus Pure suppliers.

Angus Pure partner breeders encourage their clients to invest in performance genetics that have better carcass traits, notwithstanding the traditional traits of fertility and structure. Why? Because we believe the emerging market for quality beef, especially that produced in a hormone and antibiotic free system, is going to be more profitable in the years to come.

Last year when I was in the States on Guy Sargent’s annual trip, I met Gwith Thomas, who is now Angus Pure’s marketing man on the ground in Los Angeles. I rang Gwith to find out what is happening over there under Covid 19, and it seems that all is not doom and gloom.

Gwith was born and raised in New Zealand, and trained as a chef in Auckland. He moved to the States 10 years ago and eventually opened up his own restaurant in North LA. 4 years ago his business was turned upside down by the LA fires, and a year ago met up with Guy and began really driving the Angus Pure brand in LA. Throughout Gwith’s career in LA, he has always sourced Angus Pure beef for his dishes.

Gwith says the US is in unchartered territory. No surprises here, but what is interesting is that while consumption is turned on its head, Americans still love beef, and the supermarkets were closer to running out of beef than toilet paper. The supply of beef is in disarray. Wholesalers and retailers can’t get enough product from normal supply lines, for example, slaughterhouses that have had staff get sick with Covid 19 can’t sell meat until they are ‘clean’ again. Some slaughterhouses have closed down, albeit temporarily. It’s a mess, like it is here, but far worse in that more workers have been affected by Covid 19, and the impact this has on the legitimacy of the products from an affected slaughterhouse.

Because of the supply constraints, there has been interest in Angus Pure products from new wholesalers. New Zealand’s image has probably been enhanced by our Covid 19 response, the product is low risk in terms of a perception of the risk of Covid 19 from food products.

Also of note is that consumers and the trade are having to adapt to the new circumstances. Restaurants are doing more ‘To Go’ orders, and some retailers are doing more web direct business.

When all of this settles down, Gwith says, some of the leads that have come about because of this situation may well develop into business going forward. Also, the positive perceptions of New Zealand products in terms of general food safety and purity may have been enhanced, strengthening the brand. Gwith says our beef traceability is far better than products in the states. The Angus Pure ear tags the animals are weaned with provide traceability right back to the farm, and throughout the supply chain, giving peace of mind to the trade. All in all, Angus Pure’s position in the market place, albeit small, may have been enhanced by what is happening. It certainly is not the case that niche, grass feed, hormone and antibiotic products/brands are less relevant than they were before Covid, quite likely, the opposite is true.