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Going Deep

Going Deep

Black River Meats finds success in sustainability

It’s 2019, and consumers of sustainable meat products are more knowledgeable than ever. For Black River Meats, Reinhart’s sustainable meat program in the Northeast, that calls for a portfolio that represents uncompromising standards in both quality and ethics. Whether it’s beef, pork, lamb or smoked meats, every product under the Black River banner comes from a small farm that raises animals with care—and without the use of antibiotics or growth hormones.

It’s a process that results in a superior product that people trust, according to Sean Buchanan, vice president of sales and marketing for sustainable and specialty food programs at Reinhart.

“People are looking for the third-party audit,” he explains. “We work with Certified Humane right now, and we work with Oregon Tilth for our USDA organic certification.”

Buchanan says that certified products are particularly important to restaurateurs who wish to grow while maintaining an ethos of sustainability.

“These programs give value to restaurateurs, especially as they put their ethos on paper and say ‘We only want to serve products that represent these values’,” he explains. “It also gives value to the consumer when they go to a restaurant and see that the meats are certified humane. They feel good about spending money there.”

Of course it’s easy to enjoy sustainable meats when they’re also delicious, and Black River’s latest offerings are drawing raves.

“What’s been new this year is the no-nitrate, uncured, Certified Humane bacon. It was a big success when it came out,” Buchanan continues.

And for summer grilling, sustainable burgers are on the menu.

“We’re doing an organic ground beef hamburger patty for the summer,” he says. “The beef program is a never-ever hormones or antibiotics program that’s pasture-based in New England and upstate New York.”

After that: a prepared barbecue product from an unlikely state.

“Coming down the pike, we’re looking to do 100 percent, fully cooked, Vermont-raised pork in barbecue sauce,” Buchanan says. “Some operators wanted a local product where the animal is raised in the state of Vermont, with no antibiotics and no hormones ever.”

There’s even something for fans of sustainable sausage.

“We’re coming out with a dry-cure program,” he adds. “We’ll be doing a chorizo, a soppressata and a hot soppressata.”

It’s all in the service of guests who know exactly what they want.

“Now, especially on the higher end, it’s about the breed of livestock, how it’s raised, what it’s fed, how it’s cut, how it tastes, and we’re seeing this differentiation in the marketplace,” Buchanan says. “People are being more specific—they’re not just looking for all-you-can-eat prime rib.”


“It also gives value to the consumer when they go to a restaurant and see that the meats are certified humane. They feel good about spending money there.”
- Sean Buchanan, VP of Sales & Marketing for sustainable and specialty food programs
Reinhart Foodservice Boston


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