Meat+Poultry - July 2018 - ground beef - 23
Use your imagination. Everybody has their
special way that they want the burger."
The products represent offerings right out of
the company's catalog, but Creekstone takes the
extra step for customers.
"The industry has a standard brisket, or a standard ribeye, or a standard strip loin, or whatever,"
says Jim Rogers, senior vice president of sales at
Creekstone Farms, "but then there are customers
that want to see it a little different." Creekstone's
ground beef program showcases the willingness
of the company and staff to work with customers
and provide a unique program.
"You might want a 7-oz. patty, or an 8-oz. patty,
or a 6-oz. patty, or a slider or a chuck/brisket
blend," says Ryan Meyer, Creekstone's director
of cattle procurement. "Use your imagination.
Everybody has their special way that they want
The customized program might also include
IQF, fresh, specialized packaging or lean points,
according to Meyer and Rogers. "We try to cater
to those customers that have a specific burger
that they want to feature," Meyer adds.
Creekstone has worked with large accounts
by today's standards. They started out small
and became very large over time. And while
Creekstone's flexibility allows it to work with
smaller customers to give them that exact burger
they're looking for, when the small guy becomes
huge, Creekstone sometimes loses.
In one such case, Creekstone started very
early on with a company that saw tremendous
growth. That customer continued to grow and
eventually got huge, with an IPO to match its size.
Above L to R: S. Douglas
Mackay, general counsel and director of HR;
director of operations;
Ryan Meyer, director of
cattle procurement; Kaz
Nomura, president and
CEO; Jim Rogers, senior
vice president of sales.
The burger chain got to the position where it had
to diversify suppliers.
"Big companies were willing to put in different types of puck patty lines specifically for them,
and so we eventually lose those kinds of businesses," Meyer says. "They get big enough that
the economy of scale allows a bigger business to
jump in and compete harder on it. We're never
going to compete on price. We never have any
ambitions of doing that."
Smaller businesses who need the
service Creekstone offers will always
exist. A local burger restaurant from
Pennsylvania recently worked with
Creekstone to develop the exact burger
it wanted to offer. Company executives went to Arkansas City and sat
down with Creekstone to hammer
out the details of that burger.
sample after sample, blend after
blend to narrow down the product they wanted to serve their patrons. Meyer
says today's customer wants the options
Creekstone offers. They want the ability to tell
their consumers the exact blend of short rib/
brisket, or whatever it might be, that goes into
their particular patty.
"To be able to step up and say 'okay, we'll
make that burger for you every day, every week,'
it's a changed industry. It's not all burgers are
created equal," Meyer says.
Rogers reiterates Creekstone's own size and niche
appeal to comparable customers. He says that
dictating to customers what the plant does and
doesn't make and what customers can and cannot
buy doesn't work for a packer like Creekstone.
"We can't, as a company, afford to go down
that path," he says. "We're not the big guy that
can do that."
Creekstone's ground beef program, and
specifically its patty programs for both foodservice and retail, provides a good look at
the company's philosophy as a whole. Solid
customer relationships, high quality product
made from superior genetics, and most importantly, a scale that allows for both production
and the ability to work with customers and
"That's how a lot of things evolve with this
company," Meyer says. "It's a really good place to
culture different types of ideas."
MEAT+ POULTRY 2018 GROUND BEEF TRENDS + TECHNOLOGY