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Bison Becoming the Other Red Meat

Reprinted: Copyright by National Bison Association; Westminster, CO.Bison Becoming The Other Red Meat (From the Denver Post) Bison ranchers are enjoying a rebound in market prices prompted by growing consumer awareness of the alternative red meat. Still tiny in comparison with the beef industry, bison shows signs of a sustainable-growth curve after surviving a market free fall that left producers near extinction over the past decade. March prices for slaughtered bison were near the highest levels since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began tracking the market in 2004. "In the last five years, consumer demand has really taken off," said Dave Carter, a Colorado bison rancher and executive director of the National Bison Association. Denver-based Rocky Mountain Natural Meats, one of the nation's largest bison processors, has seen sales soar from 2 million pounds in 2003 to 8 million pounds last year. "A lot of producers had gone through some brutal years when consumers hadn't yet embraced the product," said Bob Dineen, president of the meat company. "But demand is stronger now, and the concern these days is supply. The plan now is to get more producers on board so we can build a sustainable industry." Colorado has about 185 bison ranchers with about 15,475 animals, ranking the state fourth in production, behind South Dakota, Nebraska and North Dakota. While the USDA does not track retail sales, Colorado is believed to rank at or near the top of the nation in per- capita consumption because of the high penetration of bison products in grocery stores and restaurants. Bison advocates say consumers are attracted by the meat's taste and nutritional profile - leaner than comparable cuts of beef and other red meats. Increases in consumer demand have enabled ranchers to realize price hikes on slaughtered animals of about 36 percent over the past four years. Full text:

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