Walmart Invests In Proposed Nebraska Packing Plant


Walmart announced Wednesday it will invest in Sustainable Beef LLC, the proposed $325 million beef processing facility in North Platte, Neb. In a statement, Walmart said it has signed an agreement to acquire a minority stake in the rancher-owned start up.

Walmart said its investment is part of a “broader strategic partnership to source top-quality Angus beef from Sustainable Beef.” Indeed, this is not Walmart’s first venture with producers to provide beef for its retail stores. Three years ago, Walmart announced a partnership with 44 Farms to source high-quality Angus beef for about 500 of its stores in the Southeast.

At the time, Walmart’s senior vice president of meat wrote in a blog post that the company is on a mission to make “the beef America eats better.” Neal said customers want freshness and affordability, but they also want to know where their food comes from. By sourcing beef directly from farmers and ranchers, Walmart is aiming to change the dynamics of the beef industry, Neal wrote.

Wednesday’s announcement sends Walmart further down that path. Of Sustainable Beef, Walmart says the partnership helps supplement the current beef industry and provides additional opportunities for ranchers to increase their business. As part of the investment, Walmart will also have representation on Sustainable Beef’s board.

Sustainable Beef’s plans are to process 400,000 head per year (about 1,500 head per day), 100,000 of which will be cows. The plant would employ 875 workers and is expected to generate another 1,000 jobs in supporting businesses. Groundbreaking is scheduled for September, with the facility opening in late 2024.

In March, North Platte’s Community Redevelopment Authority (CRA) unanimously approved a contract with Sustainable Beef, opening the door for tax increment financing for the infrastructure for the new plant.

“At Walmart, we are dedicated to providing high-quality, affordable beef to our customers, and an investment in Sustainable Beef LLC will give us even more access to these products,” said Tyler Lehr, senior vice president of merchandising for deli services, meat and seafood, Walmart U.S. “We know Sustainable Beef LLC has a responsible approach to beef processing, one that includes creating long-term growth for cattle ranchers and family farmers. This investment provides greater visibility into the beef supply chain and complements Walmart’s regeneration commitment to improve grazing management.”

Sustainable Beef LLC will work with cattle feeders and ranchers to understand critical elements of the supply chain cycle, such as grain sourcing and grazing management. Animal care will follow the Five Freedoms, and there will be a consistent approach to antibiotic use and reporting across herds in line with Walmart's Position on Antibiotics in Animals, which asks suppliers to adopt and implement American Veterinary Medical Association Judicious Use Principles of Antimicrobials. All of these components will help Sustainable Beef LLC to improve and refine the beef supply chain to provide quality beef for our customers.

“We set out on a journey two years ago to create a new beef processing plant to add some capacity to the industry and provide an opportunity for producers to integrate their business of raising quality cattle with the beef processing portion of the industry and do it in a sustainable manner,” said David Briggs, CEO of Sustainable Beef LLC. “During this journey we found that Sustainable Beef and Walmart aligned on continuing to improve how we care for our animals and crops and provide consumers the positive experience of enjoying quality beef.”

Walmart said its investment in Sustainable Beef is the latest step in the retailer's commitment to increase access to high-quality beef at an affordable price for its customers, while boosting capacity for the beef industry and ensuring long-term economic viability for cattle ranchers.  



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