There is a new model of veal production on the horizon, and the Limousin breed will be a key component in it, according to one of the largest U.S. veal processors.
Increased competition for dairy calves, climbing whey prices and declining consumption led Strauss Veal and Lamb International to identify an alternative to the current system, explained Randy Strauss, the company's co-president.
“The newest thing in veal really isn't that new,” he said. “It is so obvious that we almost overlooked it – Mother Nature.”
Instead of the traditional system of feeding a byproduct of cheese-making (whey) to a byproduct of the dairy industry (bull calves), Strauss Veal's new model calls for all-natural, meadow-raised, preweaned beef animals. After researching several breeds, the company decided the ideal calf for such a system is a 450- to 500-pound, Limousin-influenced (at least 50 percent) bull, heifer or steer that is traceable to its place of birth.
“We are delighted Strauss Veal has identified the Limousin breed as the base from which to build its new product line,” said Kent Andersen, Ph.D., executive vice president of the North American Limousin Foundation (NALF). “The Limousin breed's industry-leading retail-product yield and efficiency, end-product palatability and healthfulness, and respected culinary reputation around the world match beautifully with the program's objectives.”
The concept of Strauss® Meadow Reserve™ veal already has garnered positive attention from the company's established foodservice and retail clients.
“Every day, I see more articles and e-mails sent out, directing people down this wholesome and healthy path,” Strauss said. “People are demanding this type of product. They are yearning for it. And it's our job to provide it for them. We need to educate them and to share with them our idea of this tasty, nutritious and authentic protein.”
Despite the promise of significant demand, the company is committed to careful, monitored growth, Strauss added.
“We already are working with several of our eager partners on the rollout of this program,” he said. “We will support this product launch with advertising and consumer education.”
An exclusive supply-development plan developed with NALF and Five Star Cattle Systems calls for Strauss Veal to begin accepting calves in May. Following a “ramp-up” process over the summer, limited distribution will begin by fall.
Andersen said NALF gladly agreed to endorse and help build a supply network for Strauss Veal.
“It is a privilege to work with such an established, reputable and innovative company,” he stated. “The larger we can help grow available year-round supply, the more net return we can add for users of Limousin genetics.”
In exchange for consistently sized, docile calves raised mostly on their mothers' milk, Strauss Veal will offer Limousin producers negotiated liveweight prices. Any carcass that falls within the desired weight range will earn a bonus. Adding to that income potential will be the reduced costs and labor associated with marketing weaning calves directly to the processor.
Strauss delineated the savings: “You will not have to castrate your bull calves. You will not have to precondition your calves for the feedyard. You will not have to dehorn. You will not have to implant. You will not have to wean. And you will not have to worry about freight and commissions.”
Andersen agreed the simplicity is one of the most attractive aspects about supplying calves to the Strauss Veal program.
“When cow-calf producers combine simple, natural production using Limousin or Lim-Flex® bulls with reduced feed and labor costs, the time savings, and the available premiums, they have an opportunity that warrants serious business consideration,” he said. “They also can take pride in knowing they're playing an essential role in producing a new, innovative, branded product for a growing range of sophisticated consumers.”
Andersen added that all Limousin producers will benefit from the production and carcass data Strauss Veal will collect and share with NALF as part of the exclusive sourcing agreement.
A 70-year-old, third-generation, family-owned company, Strauss Veal is one of the largest veal processors and fabricators in the United States. While the overall veal industry has been shrinking for the past 20 years, Strauss Veal has tripled its business since 2001.
“We are a progressive-minded company with the foresight to market what the public is looking for,” Strauss said. “There is nothing like Meadow Reserve veal in the marketplace. This is innovative and exciting, and it is an opportunity to be part of something good for not only animal agriculture but also the consumer.”
He added that, in bringing a new production model to the veal industry, his company would increase the value of calves sired by registered and properly transferred Limousin and Lim-Flex bulls.
For more information about marketing Limousin-influenced weaning calves to the Strauss Meadow Reserve veal program, contact Frank Padilla, NALF director of member and commercial relations, at (303) 220-1693.