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University of Minnesota Extension

Mobile meat processing

The Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) is developing a mobile meat processing facility in Central Minnesota. The brand-new facility will have two units.

The first unit is a slaughter facility. The slaughter facility will be a mobile unit and will travel around the region. Given logistical needs, the slaughter unit will not go to individual farms. Rather, there will be established locations throughout the region where the unit will remain in place for a set number of days and then rotate to a new location. 

The second unit is the processing facility. This unit will be located in the Staples industrial park. The property is near Central Lakes College (CLC). This is critical, as MFU has an agreement with CLC to use the facility as a training site for their meat-cutting and butchery program. The goal is to give students the skills to enter the trade and become staff (and potentially owners) of local meat markets.

As the mobile meat processing facility moves from vision to production, MFU partnered with University of Minnesota Extension to conduct a feasibility study.

Read the final results of the study.

Key findings

  • The mobile meat facility has a solid financial plan in place.
    • Once operational, the facility is projected to earn a net profit by the end of year one. Financials have been reviewed by project partners and appear to be reasonable.
  • The MFU has a solid understanding of the technical feasibility of the project.
    • While new to managing a mobile meat facility, MFU has formed partnerships that provide a solid technical foundation for the new facility. Happy Dancing Turtle has relationships with livestock producers to help identify and source animals for the facility.
    • AURI has experienced consultants that work with emerging industries to provide technical assistance. CLC’s meat cutting and butchering instructor has years of industry experience to help navigate the butchering and marketing activities.
  • The MFU is proactively addressing environmental risks.
    • MFU has considered the environmental risks associated with the mobile meat facility. Locating the fixed unit in an industrial park limits concerns regarding safety and neighborhoods. 
    • Its relationship with Central Bi-Products means carcasses and other remnants can be safely disposed of.
  • The MFU has experience in operating businesses.
    • MFU and its affiliated organizations have experience operating successful businesses. The organization has established itself as a statewide leader in addressing the meat processing bottleneck and workforce training needs. 
    • The organization also has a direct relationship with a suite of value-added businesses.
  • Regional competitors welcome the new mobile meat processing facility, especially the workers it will train.
    • By and large, meat markets in the region welcome the new mobile meat facility. Processors indicated support for the project, particularly as they welcome the opportunity to source trained students from the CLC program for their own workforce.
  • Identifying the optimal product mix for marketing will be a challenge.
    • One of the largest challenges facing the facility is the establishment of the optimal product mix. In Central Minnesota, there appears to be a clear demand for custom processing for direct-to-consumer sales. 
    • There are multiple businesses already in the marketplace, which provides examples of both business model and pricing structures.
    • Developing a custom product, however, may be more challenging. While demand likely exists and there are potential retail partners, establishing pricing and product mix will be more complicated. In addition, livestock growers in the region have not traditionally focused on quality, which may need to be addressed to capture higher price points.
  • There is interest from producers, but there are no formal contracts in place currently.
    • The livestock producer survey indicated a clear interest in selling livestock to the mobile meat facility. Interest, however, does not necessarily translate into intent.
  • There is strong local and regional support for this project.
    • There is clear support for the mobile meat facility on the local and regional levels. MFU has involved stakeholders and technical experts from the beginning of this project. 
    • The steering team includes local producers, Central Lakes College, the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI), Happy Dancing Turtle, the Region Five Development Commission, and Morrison County Community Development.
    • In addition, the local meat locker and producer surveys show strong support for the project.
  • Labor requirements are minimal but need to be addressed.
  • The plan is for the facility to employ 15 workers. This includes a manager, an assistant manager, an office manager, and labor for direct processing. 
    • Workforce availability is an issue in Minnesota, which may make hiring for the mobile meat processing facility difficult. 
    • MFU has proposed wages above the market rate, which should help attract talent.

Survey reports

To better understand the industry in Central Minnesota, Extension surveyed local meat processing businesses and livestock producers to collect information regarding current livestock production and processing.


Authors: Brigid Tuck, senior economic impact analyst; Ryan Pesch, Extension educator

Reviewed in 2023

Page survey

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