For Brinker Farms, Inc., the hog operation represents about 70% of the business, which made Kenny Brinker a little nervous. He was worried about so many people expanding in the hog business and was concerned about profitability. He asked his consulting veterinarian, Joe Connor with Carthage Veterinary Service, if he should think about diversifying.
At that time, Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus was rampant throughout the industry, and Connor thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Brinker to spread his risk.
Brinker says an individual approached him about getting into the meat business in 2015, and together they created a retail meat shop about 20 miles south of Auxvasse on Hwy. 54.
“It’s called Central Missouri Meat and Sausage,” Brinker says. “The pork sold in the retail business is our own, and we like to tell people we’ve owned it from conception to consumer (because we have a 5% stake in a boar stud in Illinois). We raise our own grain to feed the animals, too, so it’s a close-knit system. We have about 40 people working there.”
Last year, the Barnyard Smokehouse Restaurant was added, which specializes in homestyle pork and beef entrees. And recently, Brinker formed a relationship with another entrepreneur in Illinois who has a chain of grocery stores, including the upscale Harvest Market in Champaign, Ill. He sells fresh pork and bacon under the Brinker Farms label.
“The stores in Illinois are pushing source-verified,” Brinker says. “They have photos of the farm scenes, and names of the people producing products for them. That seems to be what a segment of consumers want.”