With consumers increasingly interested in knowing where their food comes from, a “niche meat” conference at UC Davis is expected to attract even more participants than its debut presentation last year, according to a University of California livestock and natural resources advisor.

Roger Ingram, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Placer and Nevada counties, said “Niche Meat Marketing Conference II,” a March 31 workshop at UC Davis' Buehler Alumni Center, would provide ideas for ranchers interested in grass-fed beef and other alternative markets.

“Ranchers thinking about or currently ‘niche-marketing’ their meat products will hear a tremendous amount of information that will apply to any species of livestock they market,” Ingram said.

Speakers will discuss business and marketing options for niche meat, health claims and label approval for grass-finished livestock, identifying markets, meat processing, dry aging and value-added products, alternative feedstuffs to supplement grass-based diets, and cost studies. Participants will also hear a chef/retailer panel discuss why they want niche meat products, featuring speakers from Chez Panisse Restaurant, Trader Joe's, and Bruce Aidells of Aidells Sausage Co.

Ingram, other UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors, researchers from California State University-Chico, the University of Nevada, High Sierra RC&D and the USDA Labeling and Consumer Protection Department, will be among presenters.

The conference runs from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and costs $60 for pre-registration and $70 at the door. Checks should be payable to UC Regents. The registration includes lunch, parking pass, and handouts. For pre-registration or more information, contact Roger Ingram, UC Cooperative Extension Placer County, DeWitt Center, 11477 E Ave, Auburn, CA 95603, (530) 889-7385 or rsingram@ucdavis.edu.