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Niman Ranch's Russ Smoke Talks Prepared Retail Offerings, History, and More

Niman Ranch's Russ Smoke Talks Prepared Retail Offerings, History, and More

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

It would be hard to overstate Niman Ranch’s influence on the North American meat industry. Since the 1970s, the company has been at the forefront of all-natural and humane farming practices. From its roots as an 11-acre ranch north of San Francisco, to its current place—a network of over 720 independent farmers and ranchers providing 100% Certified Humane® meatsNiman Ranch has perennially anticipated trends and continued a principled tradition.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Russ Smoke, Vice President of Prepared Meats, to learn more about the company’s prepared retail offerings, it’s recent history, and some of the practices that have made Niman Ranch a pioneering fresh food company.

Russ Smoke, Vice President of Prepared Meats, Niman Ranch“Our prepared beef program began in 2010. Niman Ranch added prepared and deli meats to the fresh beef program to balance the company offerings, provide more security for the network of farmers, and allow retail to grow with more shelf stable products,” Russ tells me. “We were getting requests for clean label sliced deli meats. Shoppers were beginning to ask for farm to table food and search for brands with no antibiotics or added hormones. Niman Ranch was the progressive choice and led the way for clean proteins.”

Unlike some pre-sliced on the market at the time, and even today, consumers could rely on Niman Ranch to supply a clean healthy product for themselves and their families.

Uncured Corned Beef, Roast Beef, and Uncured Beef Pastrami from Niman Ranch

“Parents wanted to know where the food was coming from and how it was raised, even before they cared about what was in the food. Once the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture issue was known to be such a major public health concern, it became a big impetus in buying decisions for consumers to buy meats that had no antibiotics,” says Russ.

Russ tells me that, beyond a brand promise, Niman Ranch’s commitment to the humane treatment of its animals and to producing the best possible product is something that progressive-minded and increasingly conscientious consumers can count on.

Cattle farmers at Niman Ranch

Niman Ranch is one of the very few deli items that is 100% Certified Humane®,” continues Russ. “Our beef is genetically Angus beef, raised on U.S. family ranches for their entire life. They don’t get shipped off to feed yards where they are finished but are finished on the ranch. They stay with their mother until they are naturally weaned, are never given antibiotics or growth hormones, and are all vegetarian fed.”

And with 94 percent of consumers snacking at least once a day, according to Mintel, and younger consumers increasingly eating better-for-you snacks throughout the day in lieu of substantial entrées at fixed meal times, Russ tells me, Niman Ranch’s prepared meat offerings are an on trend, protein-packed option for on-the-go eaters.

Niman Ranch Black Angus

While Niman Ranch’s fresh meat and even prepared pork products may be well known to our readership, Russ tells me that the company also offers a number of prepared beef products, with the same great taste, health attributes, and humanely-raised promise.

This line of fully-cooked, gluten free beef products comes in 6 oz. pre-sliced peggable packages, and, in the case of corned beef and pastrami, in 6-8 lb. deli faced whole pieces to put in the deli case, Russ tells me. He notes that each offering is a welcome addition to a grab and go or deli case.

Products in the line, Russ notes, include:

  • The Niman Ranch Uncured Beef Pastrami is a classic deli favorite. All-natural Angus beef hand rubbed with a blend of seasonings and then slow roasted to perfection. Sliced for optimal sandwich stacking, this deli meat is ideal piled high on rye
  • The Niman Ranch Uncured Corned Beef is not your ordinary corned beef. It can turn an everyday Reuben into a very special meal. It begins with the highest quality all-natural Angus Beef raised with no antibiotics or added hormones—ever and a special blend of spices. This is a sandwich classic with first-class flavors
  • The Niman Ranch Roast Beef is a special blend of onion, garlic, and robust seasonings has been added to our all-natural beef to create a flavorful deli meat that stacks up against the competition. With or without a few simple condiments and some hearty whole bread, this sandwich is sure to satisfy

Niman Ranch’s prepared beef is also unique because the products come from beef graded upper choice or prime grades by the USDA. Russ tells me you can tell the prime meat by the marbling. The beef deli products are currently available through Albert’s Organics, Oxford Trading, Sherwood Foods, Supervalu, Tony’s fine Foods, Unified, Mariano’s, Natural Grocers, URM Stores, and many foodservice distributors who service small independents.

For more fresh news in the dairy, deli, bakery, and specialty food space, keep reading Deli Market News.

Niman Ranch

Black Kassel - Snack like RoyaltyEiffel Tower - A creamy cow’s milk delight, featuring a chalky white rind and a cream-colored, buttery, soft interior that oozes when at the peak of ripeness and temperature

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