Loveland-based Meyer Natural Foods new corporate headquarters consists of 33,000 square feet of office space in two buildings. Image by Joel Blocker for BizWest.

Well done: Meyer Natural Foods emerges as nation’s largest natural-beef supplier

Apparently, the best way to get Robert Meyer to move his natural- and organic-beef companies into your development is to allow him to tell you exactly where that is — at least to the extent of naming his own address.

“That was brought up during the opening — he chose his own address,” said Paul Nobbe, the marketing lead for Meyer Natural Angus. “We were based right down the road,”

So Meyer, who started his business in Helmville, Mont., in 1990, will now headquarter his business at the address, right up the road from the old headquarters at 4850 Hahns Peak Drive at 1990 Rocky Mountain Avenue. The 33,000-square-foot facility will be built on 4.35 acres of vacant land at Centerra in Loveland, which was purchased from University of Colorado Health and sits adjacent to the Medical Center of the Rockies.

Nobbe said Meyer was in real estate before establishing a natural-beef ranch in Helmville, about 50 miles east of Missoula, an ever-growing property where all the protocols and processes are still established for raising natural and organic beef for this rapidly growing list of brands.

Today, Meyer Natural Foods is the nation’s largest supplier of natural and organic beef, including the established brands of Meyer Natural Angus, Laura’s Lean Beef, Dakota Grass Fed Beef and Local Harvest. The company’s newest brands are just hitting the market and include Meyer Natural Pork and a ground-turkey product that will be marketed under the Laura’s brand.

It that seems like a lot of brands to fit under one umbrella, Nobbe (who also champions the Laura’s brand) says they are all extremely important.

“Meyer Natural Angus is a premium product for the beef-eating connoisseur,” he said, noting that Meyer started the ranch under an Angus genetic program. Laura’s Lean Beef, which mostly sells ground beef, was purchased in 2008 and markets to more health-conscious consumers from its Lexington, Ken., headquarters.

Dakota, an organic brand, was purchased in 2010, including its 150,000-acre, open-range organic ranch in Oregon. The grass-fed market, Nobbe said, is one of the fastest-growing segments and is now augmented by cattle grown in Uruguay, where grass feeding is more easily conducted year-round.

Local Harvest, is more of a brand used in the northeastern United States and Canada, marketing locally sourced natural-beef products. Along the way, Meyer supports a number of private brands marketing in natural- and organic-food markets, as well as national grocery chains.

“It’s extremely difficult to get 100 percent grass-fed beef within the United States,” Nobbe said. Organic is likewise a difficult goal to achieve, and the potential price points make it difficult to market, he said.

In total, the nation’s natural- and organic-beef market account for about 3.5 percent of the total retail beef market, with total sales somewhat north of $1.1 billion annually. But Nobbe said that foreign markets are also a huge growth segment — especially for the select cuts provided by Meyer Natural Angus — and the company currently exports to Japan, China, Taiwan and South Korea.
The entire company employs 100 people and has numerous locations, though the major headquarters are in Loveland, Lexington and Newport Beach, Calif., where Meyer had his real-estate business. The company has been in Loveland since 2005, and most of the 40 employees here work in production, accounting and operations.

While managing the different brands and securing top-quality products are at the top of company’s business needs, education has become almost an equal part of the equation.

“This natural and organic category is just booming, so it has become more about consumer education — increasing the consumer’s core knowledge,” Nobbe said. “That’s easy with the millennials, they care more about what’s going on out there and where things are coming from.

“But Meyer’s is growing, Laura’s is growing, and it all works together.”

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