The name is synonymous with sustainable meat. Restaurants state it on their menus: “Niman Ranch lamb,” “Niman Ranch pork chop,” and so on.
We order it because we trust it, we trust the way the animals were raised, slaughtered and processed. We trust it because it started in our own backyard, in Bolinas, by rancher Bill Niman in 1969.
This week, Perdue Farms, a family owned, mega chicken-processing company based in Maryland, declared that it is buying Niman Ranch.
Perdue declares this as an opportunity to move forward with providing its customers with a broader selection of sustainably raised products.
Niman Ranch will continue to operate independently. It’s been sold a few times – to two different private equity firms in 2006 and 2011 in an attempt to sustain the business.
In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Bay Area rancher, Jeanne McCormack, reported being “stunned” by the looming purchase. Her family has owned a ranch in Bolinas since 1896 and is a provider Niman Ranch with lambs.
McCormack is concerned that Perdue won’t retain the standards of how animals are raised and slaughtered – given their not so pleasant history of how they treat their chickens.
Like the wine industry, this is a trend for our beloved brands. Family owned and “local” products are selling to bigger businesses, some desperate to sustain themselves, some hoping to get a bigger bank for their buck.
In a way, this is old news for popular regional sustainable brands. Heck, Petaluma Poultry (Rocky and Rosie Chicken) sold out to Perdue years ago.
This is in light of Heineken purchasing half of Lagunitas Brewing Company.