Delivering meat today’s consumers can feel good about!
By Donna Hover
The Belcampo Farm was started in 2012 and founded with the mission “to deliver meat you can feel good about”. Belcampo meat products are a quality protein source for people; Belcampo certifies humane treatment of its animals; and regenerative agriculture for the environment.
Belcampo is a multi-species niche business. It is currently regrouping its business to focus primarily on pork and beef. Belcampo is the largest pork producer on the west coast and is working towards being the largest certified organic pork farm in the nation. Certifications they have obtained are for humane treatment, organic meat and soon to be GAP (Good Agricultural Practices).
Once GAP status has been accomplished, the Belcampo team believes it will be the only pork business with all these certifications. Expansion has allowed Belcampo to have their own FDA approved processing facility, full-service butcher shops and authentic farm-to-table restaurants. Their GOAL is to have total transparency of their products from start to finish.
Belcampo Butchery: By owning their own butchery, Belcampo has complete control over their supply chain. This butchery ownership allowed Belcampo to continue to provide a place to process its animals during 2020, only being closed for 2 weeks during the pandemic. This kept them from being impacted during the COVID-19 surge last spring when packers were shut down for weeks or running at low production capacity.
Belcampo Restaurants: Farm-to-Table restaurants are another avenue for Belcampo to retail their delicious products. Due to COVID-19, when in-house dining restaurants were shut down, Belcampo changed their focus from dining restaurants and focused on curb-side meal pickup and direct meat sales to consumers. Ecommerce now plays a large part of their business and will continue.
Belcampo Pork Products: Preferred cuts of meat have not changed from the past, with bacon still being the most requested cut of pork by consumers. The high demand for bacon keeps their meat inventory low not allowing them to have product for sale of pork bellies. Belcampo pork chops are another highly requested cut. Their pork chops have a covering of fat that maintains juiciness in the meat during preparation, as well as adds flavor.
Belcampo Animals: The 2020 pandemic did not affect the way Belcampo cared for its animals. Pigs were raised in a modified pasture environment and hoop buildings. The extreme changes of temperatures from winter to summer can be a challenge when caring for livestock. During the extreme summer heat, Belcampo continued to take good care of their animals and made them comfortable by cooling them with sprinklers and providing shade.
Sows are pen farrowed, but after farrowing, the sows and piglets will go to group lactation. This is a positive experience for the piglets. This new environment is not so scary because they still have the comfort of being with their mother. Here pigs play and socialize with other piglets that will continue to be in their group during their life cycle. Also, another advantage is that piglets have more opportunities for mealtime, as now all the moms in the group can provide piglets needed milk supply. Piglets are weaned somewhere around 28 to 30 days which is a week or so longer than most swine producers today. When piglets are finally weaned, they will stay with the same group of pigs, thus lowering piglet stress. Belcampo continues research and implements best process practices ensuring what is best for their animals and the market.
Belcampo Outreach: Belcampo gives back to their community in many ways, such as supporting its local elementary schools by donating proceeds from their pumpkin revenue. Another is by attending more local Farmer Markets. At Farmer Markets people can buy quality products at an economical price. Belcampo feels this is important for their community, even though their product could be sold in San Francisco at a much higher price.
Belcampo Resources: Belcampo has a great group of employees that allows them to maintain their high standards in production as well as quality products. Finding team members for this type of operation, combined with the fact the employment opportunities are in a rural location, makes it challenging to recruit talent that meets Belcampo’s expectations. Belcampo feels very lucky to be blessed with great staff that truly cares for their animals. PigCHAMP has been a great support for managing Belcampo’s swine operation. PigCHAMP has helped Belcampo develop its pork business with production knowledge and is becoming more and more essential as Belcampo uses PigCHAMP to monitor disease management more deeply.
Niche markets continue to provide opportunities to local farms that differentiate themselves with unique quality products, as well as being a company that meets today’s expectations of social responsibility. Belcampo continues growing to include a network of carefully vetted, certified producers that are committed to expand the impact of its mission.