US bison producers meeting at an industry conference this week indicated they are looking to introduce a grading model based on the system already in place in Canada.

Delegates at the National Bison Association’s winter conference said they needed to improve the consistency of the meat they sell if they are to persuade more consumers to include bison meat in their diet.

This is a good time for producers of speciality red meat to sharpen up their offering, as consumption of red meat is rising. Per capita consumption reached 68 pounds last year, up from 66.6 pounds in 1995.

One of bison’s main selling points is its low fat content in comparison with other meats. Bison has 2.42 grams of fat per 100 grams of cooked lean meat, compared with 9.28 grams of fat for beef, 9.66 for pork and 7.41 for chicken, according to the National Bison Association. The Association also opposes the use of growth hormones and most antibiotics.

Despite these positive factors, the variable quality of bison meat has been holding the industry back, producers told the Associated Press. An industry-wide grading system is being discussed that could eventually seek approval from the US Department of Agriculture.

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The grading system is likely to consider the age of the animal from which the meat has come, as well as whether it was fed grass or grain. recently published a feature on the North American bison industry. To view it, members can click here.

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