The Bison Industry
The bison industry is growing rapidly today, spurred by increased consumer demand for the deliciously healthy meat products, as well as the many bison byproducts.
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This consumer-driven market surge marks a significant step forward in the development of the bison business as a strong, sustainable opportunity for ranchers and marketers alike.
Today’s commercial bison business began in the late 1960’s, but didn’t gain significant momentum until the late 1980’s. At that time, many new producers began to enter the business. The prices of animals began to climb rapidly as these new entrants competed for breeding stock to build their herds.
Meanwhile, some of the leading chefs across the country began to discover the wonderful flavor that bison meat added to their recipes. However, these gourmet chefs primarily sought the high-end cuts of meat, such as tenderloins and strip steaks.
By 1998, the price of live animals exceeded the ability of many producers to purchase new stock. At the same time, the industry suffered from being overstocked with some of the lower-end cuts of meat, such as roasts and burger meat. In 1999, the industry entered a four-year slump, with the prices of live animals falling dramatically. The difficulties ranchers faced were compounded by a significant and sustained drought that affected the heart of the North American bison production areas.
In early 2003, however, the business was beginning to show signs of turning around. The resurgence began in earnest in late 2003, and today, the industry is once again entering a period of growth and profitability.