The area surrounding Baltimore and Washington, D.C., houses many more beef consumers than beef producers. Ed Burchell and Dean Bryant recognized that when they launched Roseda Black Angus Farm, near Monkton, Md., in 1996, and they jumped at the opportunity to market high-quality beef as a natural fit with their seedstock business.
Bryant says the team prioritized carcass traits and beef quality in their genetic selection from the beginning, while first ensuring strong maternal and production traits. As they engaged in progeny testing with cooperating herds and followed cattle through finishing and into the packing plant, they began exploring beef sales as a way to add value to their customers’ herds and capitalize on their efforts to produce a superior product for consumers.
They started small, selling freezer beef, then marketing one to two head per week through a local grocery chain seeking to differentiate itself. The company works with 35 to 40 area cow-calf producers who lease or purchase Roseda bulls or semen, buying their feeder calves for custom feeding.
Roseda has also begun marketing their beef through the Giant chain of supermarkets around the mid-Atlantic region. The Giant-Landover division operates 170 stores in the area, with 27 of those being upscale markets featuring premium products. The standard Giant stores sell Roseda ground beef, hot dogs and jerky, while the premium stores carry the middle meats. This helps Roseda market the entire beef carcass as branded products.
Branded-beef companies often face challenges in creating a premium market for cuts beyond the high-demand middle meats. From the beginning, Bryant says, Roseda aimed for 100% use of their carcasses, and customers supported the concept.
Roseda dry-ages all its sides of beef for at least 14 days, and customers have come to recognize the resulting ground beef as a premium product. In fact, Bryant says, some retailers sell their orders of ground beef faster than their steaks. Several Roseda ground-beef customers have earned recognition with local and national best-burger awards, including Abbey Burger Bistro that was recently named “2018 Best Burger Restaurant” by Baltimore Magazine.
Demand Pushes Additional Growth Opportunities
With demand for Roseda beef now reaching around 62 head of cattle per week, slaughter capacity became a limiting factor. In early 2010, Ed Burchell of Roseda Beef partnered with Bill Ruppersberger of Geo. G. Ruppersberger & Sons Inc., to form Old Line Custom Meat Company, LLC. Old Line now slaughters and processes most of the cattle for the branded-beef program.
Roseda also sells beef through an on-farm store, with a growing list of around 2,000 customers. Bryant’s wife, Marcia, manages the store. The farm store markets beef from two to three head of cattle each week, and also serves lunch to the public on summer Fridays and Saturdays.
“We use the farm to promote the product,” Bryant says explaining when customers ask questions about how cattle are raised, they can show them around for a firsthand look.
Customers, he says, often ask about production issues such as hormones and grass- versus grain-finishing. The team explains they do not use hormone implants, not because of safety but because they want to maximize marbling and tenderness. They also explain how cows and calves spend most of their lives on pasture, with feeder calves finishing on a grain-based ration to achieve targeted marbling levels and flavor profile.
Roseda shoots for high-Choice and Prime in its breeding and management practices, but markets beef on its brand, rather than USDA Quality Grades, meaning the brand includes some Select carcasses. Although leaner, the Select beef retains outstanding eating quality due to breeding, live-cattle management and dry aging. Bryant says they’ve heard customers say their beef from Select carcasses was the best they’d ever eaten.
Bryant says the branded beef program benefits the seedstock business by providing performance and carcass data on progeny from customer herds. Commercial producers benefit through access to superior genetics and premium prices for feeder calves they sell back into the program. Retailers and consumers meanwhile, enjoy the availability of locally produced, high-quality beef products.
Bryant believes the future is bright as demand for Roseda beef continues to grow and the next generation comes on board, with Edward “Eddie” Burchell, Jr. and Curtis
Bryant recently joining the team.