Yakima County Development Association - Washington Beefrsquos Impacts Ripple throughout Yakima County and Central Washington

Jonathan Smith

The President’s Pen is a weekly blog written by Jonathan Smith, New Vision’s President and CEO about local economic development projects and initiatives. It also covers economic trends, workforce issues, business climate policies, and manufacturing news. 



Washington Beefrsquos Impacts Ripple throughout Yakima County and Central Washington

Washington Beefrsquos Impacts Ripple throughout Yakima County and Central Washington

November 06, 2012

Last week our Industry Roundtable group visited Washington Beef to learn more about this company and see their operation first hand.  As we suited up for the tour we realized that the company’s operation has a huge economic impact within our region.  With 900 employees, the company is the largest manufacturer in Yakima County.  The company has a payroll of over $30 million.  Washington Beef also purchases $26-28 million dollars worth of supplies each year from local businesses.

Washington Beef operates three feedlots in Washington State and two in Idaho.  The company also operates a 20,000 acre ranch near Loomis, Washington.  Brad McDowell, president of AB Foods, said that the company is now involved in every step of beef production including ranching, cattle feeding, animal nutrition, beef processing, marketing, and sales.   The company processes over 400,000 head of cattle per year, or approximately 350 million pounds of beef annually.  This translates into over a billion dollars of revenue each year.

McDowell explained that they are a relatively small player in the industry so they have to compete well in regional markets and with smaller grocery chains.  Supplying restaurants and the military are additional sales channels for the company.  Washington Beef is also moving into the online market.   Competing with the likes of Omaha Steak, it will soon offer online ordering for their prime cuts under the labels Double R Ranch, Snake River Farms, and St. Helens Beef.

Safety and sanitation are paramount priorities at the beef plant.  The company uses over 900,000 gallons of water daily to sanitize every corner of their facility.  Washington Beef has also invested millions of dollars to address food safety and origin issues.  The plant is not necessarily glamorous, but the precision and attention to detail was apparent.  The employees perform their jobs with adept skill and knowledge.  Every morsel of each cow is processed in some fashion, from beef products, hides, or rendering commodities, they are very efficient with each animal.

McDowell told our group the beef industry has had many challenges in the last few years and yet is experiencing growth and innovation.  It is a daily challenge to compete in this industry but Washington Beef’s mission of quality, consistency and traceability throughout the entire agribeef process are helping it succeed in today’s marketplace.   We appreciate what Washington Beef does for our local economy and also thank them for supporting many good local causes and charities.

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