Parker Ranch and Ulupono Initiative have entered into an agreement to jointly fund research trials to study the merits of large-scale grass-fed beef production on the Big Island.
The trials will follow 200 head of cattle on a test area of 300 acres from September 2012 through May 2013.
“We are very focused on developing our local grass-fed beef program,” said Dutch Kuyper, CEO of Parker Ranch. “This is important on many fronts, especially to develop a strategic hedge within our business against the risk of rising energy prices in the future. Also, a significant increase in local production should help us build our brand even further. This local product strategy should ensure that we have the capacity to produce high quality and consistent market cattle in Hawaii at a competitive price. Shifting a meaningful portion of our operations in this new direction should prove beneficial for us as a producer as well as for the Hawaii consumer. We are excited to be partnering with Ulupono in exploring this commercial scale opportunity together – a partnership with many other possible opportunities to work together in the future.”
“Ulupono believes ranching is a fundamental cornerstone of Hawai‘i’s agricultural sector,” said Kyle Datta, general partner for Ulupono Initiative. “It is an honor for us to partner with Parker Ranch, one of our state’s most venerable institutions, to support the pre-commercialization trials of large-scale grass-fed beef. Allocating pasture from cow-calf operations to increased grass-finished beef production should place Hawaii’s ranching industry on a more secure economic footing, ushering in a prosperous future that would attract reinvestment in our state’s ranches for local beef production. Parker Ranch’s leadership is essential to help inspire other Hawaii ranchers to consider grass-fed as an option. As more ranchers adopt grass-fed methods, we believe the tangible benefit will be an increase in the availability of high-quality local beef that everyone can afford. ”
With successful results from the trials, Parker Ranch believes that its local grass-fed beef program could reach 2,500 to 4,000 head per year in annual production with its existing pasture and reallocating a measureable portion of its grazing capacity to grass finishing.
Parker Ranch is currently the largest producer of grass-fed ground beef in Hawaii. Significant expansion would also make a greater variety of grass-fed retail cuts available to Hawaii consumers.
Parker Ranch is one of the largest and oldest cattle ranches in the United States. Parker Ranch is beneficially owned by four non-profits including North Hawaii Community Hospital, Hawaii Preparatory Academy, Parker School and Hawaii Community Foundation.
Ulupono Initiative is a Hawaii-focused impact investing firm that uses for-profit and non-profit investments to improve the quality of life for island residents in three areas – locally produced food; clean, renewable energy; and waste reduction.