Bison Council Pushes Meat Acceptance
Pork is “the other white meat.” Beef is “what’s for dinner,” and the egg is incredibly edible. Now it’s bison’s turn.
Backed by one of the country’s largest bison producers, The Bison Council has launched to promote the health, safety and taste of bison meat, primarily in place of beef.
“The objective is to raise mass acceptance and awareness of bison meat,” Andrea Orth, account director at VSA Partners, the Council’s lead marketing agency. “There are misperceptions that it is a wild food, that it’s hard to find or that it’s expensive.”
For the initial launch, much of the push will be toward getting consumers to experiment with bison meat in recipes in place of beef, Orth says. “From a strategic standpoint, we know that’s the best way to get people to try bison, which [consumers] might think is gamey.”
Though hunted to near extinction in the 1800s, bison have made a comeback and are no longer considered an endangered species. (At least the bison used for consumption; there are some species that are still endangered, but they are not raised nor used for consumption, Orth says.) The council addresses this issue on its website, though Orth admits its a hurdle the industry has to overcome to gain mass acceptance.
“We want to educate people that’s not the case anymore,” she says.
To that end, the council has enlisted three “bison ambassadors”: chef Michael Kornick (owner of Chicago’s mk restaurant); registered dietician, author and television host Ellie Krieger, and nationally known food writer (and founder of Meatopia) Josh Ozersky. Each of the three personalities will be used in different capacities. Kornick, for instance, will emphasize cooking at home, using new and existing recipes, while Krieger will focus on the meat’s health benefits. Ozersky will be used to reach other influencers, Orth says.
“The goal is to make it seem more approachable, [and] to make it more mainstream for people,” she says.
For the near future, most of The Bison Council’s efforts will be targeted in the digital space, with banner ads on food-oriented websites and through social media. The council will also have a presence at food events such as the World Food Championships in Las Vegas and Meatopia in San Antonio. Based on the results of this year’s efforts, the council may expand its outreach in 2014, Orth says.