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Local beef selling big during COVID-19

In the midst of packer shutdowns, one local beef business is booming — thanks to local partnerships, quality products and impeccable timing.

Holly Spangler

April 24, 2020

3 Min Read
Sumner Point Beef shipping boxes
SHIPPED: Krystal Jungmann says both local and shipped orders have doubled for Sumner Point Beef during the COVID-19 pandemic. Illinois residents have been ordered to stay at home since mid-March, continuing through late May. Krystal Jungmann

Amid packer shutdowns and supply chain interruptions, what’s the right meat business to be in during the COVID-19 pandemic?

A local one. The kind that lets a consumer order meat from their computer and receive small packages on their doorstep in days. Meat that comes from a family they trust. 

That model has proved phenomenally successful for Sumner Point Beef, says Krystal Jungmann, who runs the business with her family and has seen sales double from mid-March to mid-April.

“Our push in business came when people walked in the grocery and couldn’t get ground beef,” Jungmann says. “That’s really when our business saw a significant increase.”

She’s quick to note that as a farmer, she knows there’s no supply problem; she’s literally staring at cattle in her pasture. But as a business model, her family’s business has the ability to get meat from pasture to processor to doorstep, within a few days of a customer’s order.

Jungmann and her brother Scott Campbell, along with their spouses, started Sumner Point Beef 18 months ago because they knew their cattle were worth more than they were getting at the sale barn. They’ve developed agreements with Reason Meats, a fourth-generation locker in nearby Buffalo Prairie, Ill., to regularly process cattle. Jungmann — now with the help of her kids, home from school — takes orders, packs, ships and delivers meat all over the country.

“To have the infrastructure and process in place has been wonderful for our farm and business,” she says.

More halves and quarters

Their sales increase has come primarily from new customers, many of whom heard about Sumner Point through word of mouth and social media. Before COVID-19, Jungmann says their sales were 75% urban and 25% local; in the past month, that’s switched to 50% urban and 50% local, with local business doubling.

Sumner Point sells a variety of packages, including hamburger and steaks, but Jungmann says most of their local growth has come from people buying quarters and halves.

While local sales have doubled, so have their shipped sales.

“Why? It’s online shopping. I can get 10 pounds of ground beef ordered to land on my door this week, and I know it will show up,” she says. “We’ve had no shipping issues, and it’s all been on time.”

Clearly, people are looking for ways to make their lives easier in quarantine, and to rely on a food supply they can trust. Enter Jungmann and her family, who promote their beef as a family-raised product, raising beef for “families just like ours.”

“We’re all doing things to make our lives better and easier right now,” she says. “Grocery pickups especially. If I can get meat dropped on my doorstep, I would sure take advantage of it.”

Managing inventory has been tricky, she allows, mostly because they’re trying to meet the needs of customers who want an assortment of steaks or ground beef, as well as customers who want an entire half. Two weeks ago, they delivered five head to the locker, and every pound was sold before they left home.

It’s the kind of assurance that helps a beef producer sleep at night, especially as she hears about other beef and pork producers struggling to find a buyer for animals that are market-ready.

“It’s a win for our type of business,” she allows. “But it’s heartbreaking for others.”

Editor’s note: Krystal Jungmann’s husband, Matt, is national events manager for Farm Progress.

Read more about:

Covid 19

About the Author(s)

Holly Spangler

Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Holly Spangler has covered Illinois agriculture for more than two decades, bringing meaningful production agriculture experience to the magazine’s coverage. She currently serves as editor of Prairie Farmer magazine and Executive Editor for Farm Progress, managing editorial staff at six magazines throughout the eastern Corn Belt. She began her career with Prairie Farmer just before graduating from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Holly is past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association. In 2015, she became only the 10th U.S. agricultural journalist to earn the Writer of Merit designation and is a five-time winner of the top writing award for editorial opinion in U.S. agriculture. She was named an AAEA Master Writer in 2005. In 2011, Holly was one of 10 recipients worldwide to receive the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism award. She currently serves on the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation, the U of I Agricultural Communications Advisory committee, and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth. Her work in agricultural media has been recognized by the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn, Illinois Council on Agricultural Education and MidAmerica Croplife Association.

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise corn, soybeans and beef cattle on 2,500 acres. Their operation includes 125 head of commercial cows in a cow/calf operation. The family farm includes John’s parents and their three children.

Holly frequently speaks to a variety of groups and organizations, sharing the heart, soul and science of agriculture. She and her husband are active in state and local farm organizations. They serve with their local 4-H and FFA programs, their school district, and are active in their church's youth and music ministries.

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