U.S. Bison Sales Hit $350 Million in Retail, Restaurant Sales

Additional Growth Constrained by Tight Supply

Westminster, CO (March 3, 2017) The U.S. bison business has notched $350 million in sales at the retail and restaurant level in 2016, with tight supplies of market-ready animals limiting additional growth in the business, according to information compiled by the National Bison Association this week.

The analysis released this week was based on the association’s latest Economic Size of the U.S. Bison Business model, along with its most recent survey of commercial bison marketers in the United States and Canada.

According to the association’s model, the bison business grew from $340 million in sales in 2016 to $350 million in sales last year. That increase, though, was due almost entirely to additional prices for bison meat, rather than from increased production. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 61,300 bison were processed under federal and state inspection last year, which was only 1,000 more than were processed the previous year.

Meanwhile, 85 percent of the marketers responding to the association’s latest survey in November reported that they were unable to fill all of their customers’ orders, with the majority of marketers saying they could sell at least 15 percent more product at the current prices if supply was available.  

“The bison market is enjoying strong stability and profitability, with growth projected to continue as long as we can expand herds across the country,” said Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association. “Our primary focus today is reaching out to producers to build the herds of bison across the country.”

“The growing popularity of bison meat is providing a strong, stable foundation for our business,” Carter said. “Bison today is perhaps the strongest growth area in American agriculture, and a growth area that is bringing back our National Mammal to more of its historic rangelands and pastures.”

The National Bison Association is actively reaching out to prospective producers, agricultural lenders, and others with a series of comprehensive resources to encourage new entrants into the bison ranching and marketing business. Information on those resources is available at www.bisoncentral.com.

The National Bison Association has regularly surveyed major commercial marketers since 2011 to gauge issues that are impacting the bison business in the marketplace. The participants in the survey represent more than 85 percent of the bison meat sold in the United States.