Analytics for Sustainable Products: The Case of Sustainable Beef
Beef production is not sustainable, but it can and should be. Large scale commercial beef farming imposes tremendous negative impacts on the environment by polluting the air, water, and soil. In contrast, sustainable farming uses responsible practices that protect the environment for future generations. But, are consumers really interested in sustainable beef? When consuming sustainable beef products, most reactions by consumers are: they taste great; they are produced without destroying the environment or threatening public health; and their sales support responsible farmers who choose to use sound agricultural practices. Thus, if a sustainable farm wanted to promote one of its beef products, and it had to choose between "grass-fed", "pasture-raised" or "organic" beef, which one would it choose, at what cost, and at what risk? Such a decision is difficult without knowing analytics. So, can business analytics be used to evaluate such a business decision? This case is about making hard decisions involving sustainability products, for which business analytics can play a significant role. The intent is also to educate the reader about sustainability and sustainable beef. The case introduces an entrepreneurial start-up that consistently and successfully promotes sustainable farming, and it's their emphasis on sustainability that makes the company unique and successful. The decisions involve the sustainability "stamps" assigned to beef products. One may recognize some of these stamps, such as the "organic" brand. The farm in the case produces a variety of sustainable products, but it is thinking about a marketing campaign to promote one of its product stamps. But, which one? That is a hard decision, and it is where business analytics can play a role. Before we launch into the "meat" of the case, some background on sustainability and sustainable beef would be useful.