Save Money and Eat Well: Overcoming Objections to Buying Pork in Bulk
July 18, 2023
You’re thinking about purchasing meat in bulk. Maybe you’re concerned about food security, or perhaps you’re a numbers person who’s realized that this is the most cost-effective way to access quality meat. Or maybe you just want to shop from your freezer and not worry about meat for another year.
Whatever the reason, purchasing in bulk is a big decision - and you’ll likely face some serious doubts or concerns along the way. We’re addressing the four biggest concerns we hear as farmers - and some suggestions for thinking through them.
Concern #1: “I’m so intimidated! How would I do this? I don’t even know where to start!”
Intimidation is a big factor if this is your first time purchasing bulk meat - or if you’re purchasing a different animal this time around. And it’s true. There’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to bulk meat.
Although bulk meat feels like a lot when you receive it all at once, the truth is that if you divide it up over a year, it’s probably not - just about 3 to 4 pounds of meat a week for the average consumer.
So for the nervous consumer, I’d say - play it safe, and take it one week at a time. Pick the safest, easiest cuts that you feel most comfortable with. There’s no rule that says you have to try anything - you can get it all ground up, if you’d like! Pick what you already know what you’d like.
The rationale behind this is that it helps you learn how to transform your cooking (and shopping) habits while slowly building up your comfort level in the kitchen. You don’t need to experiment with the most exotic cuts or most challenging recipes. You just need to focus on the first step: accessing food differently.
And if you do want to experiment? Luckily, we live in a time where you can find recipes and information online in just mere seconds.
As your farmers, we also build in support on your bulk journey. We check in with you each month, offering recipes, tips on particular cuts, and information about your meat to make sure that you’re successful with your purchase.
Concern #2: “I don’t know how to manage the logistics. What do I need?”
Yep, the logistics are a big priority to figure out before you place your pre-order. Will you need another freezer? Is this a purchase you feel comfortable making long-term?
Of course, it depends - on you and the type of meat you’re ordering.
We often encourage customers to start small - perhaps with a whole lamb, which at just 30 pounds can easily fit in your existing freezer, or with a half animal if you’re purchasing pork or beef.
This limits your investment in a long-term purchase. Perhaps you can make it work in your existing space, or you can get a smaller, more cost-effective freezer.
One thing you’ll definitely want to do? Crunch some numbers and take some measurements. Here’s a handy rule of thumb for how to space to make per bulk purchase: plan for 1 cubic foot of freezer space per 15 lbs. of meat.
Here’s how that would break down per animal:
Whole Beef: 23-24 cubic feet (the equivalent of a single door, standing freezer)
1/2 Beef: 11-12 cubic feet (the size of a chest freezer)
Whole Hog: 10-11 cubic feet (the size of a chest freezer)
1/2 Hog: 5-6 cubic feet (half the space of a chest freezer)
Whole Lamb: 2-3 cubic feet (a drawer or shelf in your existing freezer)
Concern #3: “It’s such a big investment. What if we don’t like it - or eat it?”
I like to think of bulk meat purchases as akin to a New Year’s resolution. Chances are, if you haven’t worked out for five years, you’re not going to start waking up at 6 AM and hitting the gym five days a week on January 2.
Likewise, if you’re not regularly cooking at home, or if you haven’t shifted your schedule or priorities to accommodate the opportunity to do this, bulk meat is probably not a wise decision.
Bulk meat works best for people who are already used to cooking at home, for about 3-4 meals a week. Like any other habit, you’ll need to plan ahead. I like to make time in the mornings or the day before to “shop” from the freezer and select what we’ll have that night.
If you’re cooking regularly, consuming your meat won’t be a problem. In fact, you’ll likely have the opposite - you’ll find yourself eating more meat, more quickly than you had probably planned. The most common feedback we hear: “We loved it - but we’re already almost out!”
Concern #4: “It feels like a lot of money – too much.”
There’s no question that purchasing meat in bulk is a significant investment upfront. Above all, you’ll need to make sure that you can afford the initial deposit and the remaining balance when you actually get your meat.
But let's set aside any comparison to "grocery store" prices. Our prices will never be comparable to big-box stores, but neither will our product. What you're getting - in quality, in nutrition, in ethics, in the living wage afforded to farmers growing your food - is 100% a different product than what's on the shelves at your grocery store.
Instead, I encourage you to locate your comparison in bulk vs. retail prices at the farm. Will you save more, purchasing in bulk from the farm, than you would buying every single item at retail price from us?
I'd argue the question is a resounding YES.
In fact, I encourage you to do this work yourself. Look at what our retail costs per pound are for an individual pack of ground meat, or a roast, or a premium cut like bacon. And then compare that with the flat price you'll pay per pound for a whole or half animal. Often, the wholesale price will be quite competitive - sometimes even half of what you'd pay for retail.
We have many different types of customers. Some have plenty of disposable income; others have to budget very carefully. The similarity, however, is that they've made sourcing local food a priority in their budget. They're willing to pay money that will help them access reliable, long-term food that brings value to their life: in what they consume (and don't), in who they support, in how what they eat affects their everyday lives.
Bulk meat is an investment in your food, at wholesale price, AND an investment in your farmer. Paying for the hanging weight helps us cover our costs for raising the animal, and ensures that we can raise another animal next year - for you and our other customers.
I hope that this has given you some food for thought. I’d love to hear any remaining concerns, questions, or thoughts you still have as you think about purchasing bulk meat.