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How Snake River Farms Became a Top Beef Company


Snake River Farms is a U.S. meat producer. To be exact, it is a U.S. meat producer intent on producing nothing but the best beef as well as the best pork, meaning that its production processes can see significant differences from those of its counterparts. In particular, it is worth noting that Snake River Farms raises American Wagyu cattle as well as Berkshire pigs, both of which are breeds prized for their fine-tasting meat.

How Did Snake River Farms Manage to Carve Out a Position For Itself In Its Chosen Market?

Foodie isn't a new concept. For those who are curious, the term was coined in the 1980s before seeing a huge surge of popularity in the 1990s and 2000s, with the result that it is now entrenched in the popular lexicon. However, it should be mentioned that the roots of the foodie can be traced to even earlier times.

In short, the Boomers were the first foodies. This is because they were responsible for a huge surge of interest in what people ate as well as how they ate it, which had a transformative effect on the U.S. population's relationship with food. Eventually, Generation X retained that interest but extended it to cover a much, much wider range of foods, with an excellent example being their fondness for ethnic cuisine. In turn, Generation Y followed in their predecessors' footsteps by making the concept of foodie their very own. Something that was propelled to a considerable extent by the popularization of social media, which makes it easier for interested individuals to converse on such subjects than ever before.

The sheer extent to which Generation Y see themselves as foodies have sent changes rippling throughout the food industry. This is unsurprising because Generation Yers have huge purchasing power, which in turn, means that food businesses must cater to their particular preferences to capitalize on that profit-making potential. For example, the number of farmers' markets have soared in recent years, which is a reflection of Generation Y's interest in fresh, local food. Likewise, there is a wide range of restaurants that now sell the experience of eating food as much as the food itself so that their patrons can share it with their friends, their family members, and the other people in their social media circles.

Having said that, while the exact nature of the interest in food has changed over time, the search for the best ingredients with which to make the best food remains as powerful as ever. Something that explains how the U.S. market became fascinated by both Wagyu beef and Berkshire pork. For those who are unfamiliar, Wagyu beef refers to the beef from the four Japanese breeds of beef cattle, which are Japanese Black, Japanese Polled, Japanese Brown, and Japanese Shorthorn. Generally speaking, Wagyu beef has earned a name for its fine marbling, though it is important to note that different kinds of Wagyu beef produced in different parts of Japan have different reputations. In particular, Kobe beef produced in Kobe is supposed to be the best of the best, with the result that it is so prized for its flavor, its texture, and its tenderness that it is sold to a very limited number of buyers.

Meanwhile, Berkshire pork comes from the Berkshire pig, which is an English breed that has since spread to a number of countries besides Great Britain. In particular, Snake River Farms is interested in the Japanese branch of the Berkshire pig called the Kurobuta, which means "black pig" in reference to how the breed is black with white on its nose, its tail, and its feet. Originally, Berkshire pigs were already prized for their tender, flavorful meat, but the Kurobuta branch of Berkshire pig have been further bred for both better marbling and increased findness, thus enabling it to build a respectable reputation in international markets as well.

In any case, the huge demand for Kobe beef as well as other kinds of Wagyu beef has created obvious opportunities for interested parties to capitalize upon. For instance, there are some places that have been known to market Wagyu beef as Kobe beef, which is more than a bit misleading to say the least. However, Snake River Farms isn't that cheap. Instead, it has sought to capitalize on this surplus of demand in its own particular way, which is presumably more sustainable because of it.

Basically, Snake River Farms doesn't produce Japanese Wagyu beef. Instead, it produces American Wagyu beef, which is the product of a cross between Wagyu breeds and more familiar breeds for its U.S. customers. This is beneficial because while the resulting meat retains its predecessor's excellence, it is more familiar-tasting thanks to the cross-breeding. Something that makes it more appealing rather than less appealing for a considerable portion of U.S. customers.

However, it isn't the meat alone that has enabled Snake River Farms to carve out a position in its chosen market. First, its business model is online-based, thus making it very convenient for people who are curious about the taste of Wagyu beef but might not necessarily want to head into a restaurant in order to get their hands upon it. Second, Snake River Farms has put even more effort to increase that convenience by enabling interested individuals to choose their cuts as well as including cooking instructions in their shipments, thus making it that much easier for even normal customer to cook their own Wagyu beef. Something that has opened up its clientele to a much, much bigger base of potential buyers than otherwise possible.

Further Considerations

On the whole, Snake River Farms is a great example of a business that saw opportunities in its chosen market before setting out to capitalize upon them with a product that was similar to its competitors' offerings but nonetheless capable of standing out from them at the same time. Of course, its success wouldn't have been possible without excellent execution of its core premise, which cannot be summed up in a single sentence or even a single article because it is composed of countless factors both great and small. Ultimately, it is relatively easy to talk about the right plan for business success, it is much more challenging to actually implement it towards the desired ends.

Allen Lee

Written by Allen Lee

Allen Lee is a Toronto-based freelance writer who studied business in school but has since turned to other pursuits. He spends more time than is perhaps wise with his eyes fixed on a screen either reading history books, keeping up with international news, or playing the latest releases on the Steam platform, which serve as the subject matter for much of his writing output. Currently, Lee is practicing the smidgen of Chinese that he picked up while visiting the Chinese mainland in hopes of someday being able to read certain historical texts in their original language.

Read more posts by Allen Lee

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