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Online shoppers will change the way you manage your cattle and produce beef

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Old-timers will remember the saying that our folks would use to describe something great, some new innovation—“It’s better than sliced bread.”

Enter online grocery shopping. Now-a-days, maybe we can say it’s better than a trip to the supermarket.

READ: Are you ready to buy groceries online?

And it is, especially for the booming consumer segment we affectionately call millennials. They are not price driven in their food purchases. They’re not sure they know enough to do a good job picking out fresh products ,whether it be produce or meat. They’re busy and a trip to the grocery store is more of a burden than enjoyment.

That’s why, says Don Close, online grocery shopping has already begun to take a bite out of traditional grocery shopping and traditional grocery stores, and why it will continue to grow in importance to consumers.

And that’s good news for beef producers. According to Close, senior analyst, animal protein with Rabobank, online grocery shopping puts every kind of beef product that a consumer could want at the tip of their fingers. “The online market is exponentially larger than any grocery store or chain can offer,” he says. That means online retailers can offer every niche product available now and any that may become popular in the future—natural, organic, traditional, grass-fed, and the list goes on.

And that has positive implications for beef demand. But to take advantage of what this future holds for you, it may be that traditional mindsets, traditional business models and traditional individualism will have to bend a little.

READ: Online shopping gains popularity, but consumers still love local stores

“The industry has tremendous momentum currently. And we can use that momentum of rebuilding this herd to position where we want to be with this change, or we can sit until we’re mandated, this is what you’re going to do if you’re going to sell product to me,” he says.

What does this mean to cow-calf producers? “I think it’s going to be more specialization, it’s going to be way more programming those cattle to a specific end use. It will mean more verification, it will mean alliances or networks.”

Online shopping offers great potential to grow the consumer pie in terms of beef demand. Are we ready to capture that value, adapt to a new consumer and change our management to address new consumer demands? The time to ponder that is now.

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