Feddes Family Meats

Community Minded, Growth Oriented

It wasn’t as if Jake and Alyssa Feddes didn’t have enough to do. After all, they operate a Red Angus seedstock operation near Manhattan, Montana, and Jakes is a Superior Livestock rep. So why would they want to buy the local meat processing plant?

“It was an accident,” Jake says. Or perhaps it was a sense of opening the door to knocking opportunity. Whatever the case, venture has turned out to be a fortunate happenstance for both the Feddes family and the community.

Jake had been processing his cull cows at Manhattan’s Amsterdam Meat Shoppe and selling the ground beef on Facebook. Then COVID hit, beef became scarce in grocery stores and Jake sold 1,500 pounds of ground beef in 22 hours.

Jake Feddes (pictured) would process his cull cows at Amsterdam Meat Shop to sell ground beef on Facebook. In July 2020, he took over the Manhattan, Montana, meat processing business and added a retail component to form Feddes Family Meats.

“I asked the manager when I could get more animals in (to be processed). He said, ‘Well, just buy the place and you can do it whenever you want.’

"I gave it more thought that night, started crunching some numbers and looking at different things and realized there was significant opportunity there.”

He mentioned to his dad that he and his wife were considering the purchase. “He thought we were crazy and then he said, ‘Send me your spreadsheet.’ He called the next morning and said, ‘Mom and I want in on it.’”

Jake and Alyssa Feddes (right) and Jake’s parents, Chuck and Carol Feddes (left), operate Feddes Family Meats, formerly Amsterdam Meat Shop.

And thus, on July 1, 2020, Feddes Family Meats went into business. www.amsterdammeatshop.com 

“Since then, we’ve increased capacity significantly, opened up a retail space, have product into six different restaurants in Bozeman and became the official meat sponsor of Montana State University Bobcat Athletics.”

As the official meat sponsor of Montana State University Bobcat Athletics, Feddes Family Meats feeds the football players during pregame tailgates at Bobcat Stadium.

Of all those advances, perhaps the retail store is the most influential. Under the previous ownership, the state-inspected plant only processed cattle. It had no retail sales. “When COVID hit and we saw supply chain issues, you couldn’t find meat on the counter at the grocery store. So that’s what prompted us. We could do retail sales and help supply the community with meat.”

But Feddes Family Meats does much more than retail. “When we bought it, there were six employees. We’re up to 15 now, and that’s in a community that doesn’t even have a post office,” he says. “We’re serving the community through custom processing but also providing local meat that is tough to find in a place that doesn’t have a processor. And to employ 15 people out of a community is a big deal.”

Alyssa (far left) and Carol (center) Feddes, along with Jake and Alyssa’s daughters and nephew, sell Feddes Family Meat products at the local farmer’s market.

What’s more, Feddes Family Meats and the community it serves showed that country folks knew about crowd funding before crowd funding was even a term. 

The operation outgrew its small retail space and expanded into a larger section of the building. A grand opening celebration was planned for July 8, 2022. Then, on July 2, Jake’s 31-year-old cousin, who had been battling cancer for five years, was life flighted to a hospital in Salt Lake City. The grand opening became a fundraiser. 

The family put notices on Facebook, called people in the community and decided to sell burgers and brats for $2 to fundraise for his cousin’s cancer treatment costs. “We thought we’d feed about 250 people,” Jake says. “July 5, I started looking at Facebook and all the responses and we thought we’d better up that to 500.”

Instead, they ended up feeding around 1,200 people. Along with generous donations to a silent and live auction, the event raised $64,000 for his cousin’s family. In just a few days, the community of Manhattan showed what “community” really means.

What’s ahead

The Feddes’ plan to keep adding services for community members. During the retail space remodel, they added a coffee bar and a deli sandwich prep station. The goal is, by the end of the year, to open a sandwich shop and coffee bar. “All the meat in the sandwich shop will be made in our shop from local meat,” Jake says. “It will be a little different twist on most fast-food deli shops, but I think it’s one that will be accepted pretty well within our community.”

Jake Feddes and Montana Governor Greg Gianforte pose at the Montana Stockgrowers Association’s 2022 Beef BBQ celebrating National Ag Day. Gianforte is well recognized for his support of the cattle industry in Montana and America.

Their three to five-year is to expand into Bozeman, a college town 20 miles down the highway. “It has a strong push toward local food. It’s a more affluent community and one that doesn’t mind spending extra money on local.”

The plan calls for an old-time, ’50s-style butcher shop. “Haul quarters to Bozeman where they can watch you cut up a quarter. We’ll have a 100 percent local retail store there.”

Hard-earned advice

For others exploring opportunities in the meat processing business, Jake shares his experience so far. “The meat processing business is not a real lucrative business,” he says. “Most of the money in meat is made in retail sales, not in processing. And the efficiencies the big processors have in doing 5,000 a day or 6,000 a day, we don’t have in a plant where we’re doing 20 a week.”

In fact, Feddes Family Meats is at a $350-per-head disadvantage to a large packing plant just in its inability to utilize hides and offal. To overcome that, he says location is everything. “You’ve got to have those (small) processors in a place where you’ve got a niche market like we do in Bozeman, because price-wise, a small processor can never compete with the big guys.”

Ranchers willing to take the next step in the beef processing and marketing chain can add value to their operation by selling a branded product. “But, you have to figure out a way to set yourself apart or be in an area where people want to buy local and have enough expendable income to afford that local product and pay extra for it,” Jake advises.

“It’s not an easy business at all, but one I think is needed.”


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