Augusta County farm pivots business model to hold steady through pandemic

Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 4:51 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — After processing plants closed and demand increased in grocery stores due to the pandemic, America’s meat industry is said to be improving.

When restaurants shut down due to COVID-19, Autumn Olive Farms lost 75 percent of their business.

“That pipeline was intact after years of work to get that, and so the clock was ticking,” Clay Trainum with Autumn Olive Farms said.

They quickly pivoted to be able to cut and package their product to be able to sell to individual consumers.

“Additional storage capacity, freezer capacity, learn to cut and package, and do weights and portions and case ready, that was all new for us,” Trainum said.

Trainum said creating an online store to sell Autumn Olive Farms products has kept business steady.

“Many people were excited they could actually get that individually and purchase the product and begin to fix it themselves,” Trainum said.

They were also able to partner with wholesale resellers.

“Deliver directly to people’s door, so that convenience and safety component was very valuable, and now we’re adding online shipping as well so we can reach beyond this region,” Trainum said.

He said fortunately, the meat processer they use has remained open through the pandemic.

“We’ve stockpiled and tried to build up our inventory in the event that they were closed, or key people got sick,” Trainum said.

Despite some of the initial challenges of building a whole new model, Trainum says they hope and plan to come out of the pandemic in a better place than before.

“We’ve really added an additional leg to our stool we’re more stable than we were before because we’re not completely dependent on restaurant sales. We have individual sales, we have wholesale resellers, we also have restaurant and butcher sales,” Trainum said.

While it may be hard to predict what will come tomorrow, Trainum said they will continue raising more pigs.

“We’re breeding, we’re having a lot of piglets right now, and all of that was decided four months ago for product availability to people in eight or nine months from now,” Trainum said.

He said because people need to eat and want to eat healthy, Autumn Olive Farms will be there to provide.

“We’re full-on. This is what we do. This is our livelihood, so we’ll continue on the best we can,” Trainum said.

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