The family-owned Critchfield Meats has earned a reputation for consistently meeting its clients’ needs, CEO Larry McMillan says. “[Customers can] walk in our retail operation and say, ‘I want a steak that’s 2 inches thick and I want 10 of them,’” he says. “We can do just about anything you ask us, and Critchfield Meats’ wholesale operation is USDA-inspected.”
The Lexington, Ky.-based Critchfield Meats specializes in meat and poultry products, along with frozen appetizers, French fries, flour and cooking oil. Critchfield Meats started operations 40 years ago and is now led by several members of the Critchfield family, including President Mark Critchfield, who manages its wholesale operation.
His brothers, Vice President Larry Critchfield and Treasurer Mike Critchfield, manage its sales at the retail operation. McMillan notes that the company also provides its products to clients like Lee’s, Rafferty’s and other foodservice distributors, as well as local caterers, country clubs and white tablecloth restaurants.
In addition, Critchfield Meats has formed a partnership with Alltech, a natural animal feed nutrition company based in Nicholasville, Ky. Through the partnership, Critchfield Meats offers Alltech Angus, a high-grade black Angus beef product that is raised on Kentucky family farms.
“It is labeled as a ‘Kentucky Proud’ product,” McMillan says. Kentucky Proud is part of an initiative by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to promote the purchase of local goods.
Critchfield Meats also keeps track of the product by having the name of every farmer that raises the beef. “It’s traceable and sustainable,” McMillan says.
He adds that Critchfield Meats has enjoyed increases since starting the production of Alltech Angus five months ago. “[We’re now] bringing in 160 head of beef a week and processing that for the Kentucky market,” he says. “We hope to be up to 400 head a week by [September].”
McMillan joined Critchfield Meats four years ago when its original president and CEO, Harold Critchfield, retired. “I came in as a partner,” he recalls, noting that the experience of the family managers gives it an edge over competitors. “[The Critchfields] have grown up in this business and were butchers when they were teenagers.”
Recently, McMillan says, Critchfield Meats’ customers have grown increasingly more cautious about the products that they purchase and where they come from. “Several companies have been caught [selling] products that were labeled incorrectly,” he says.
“That is happening all over the country, not just in Kentucky,” he adds, noting that the company’s ability to trace its products allows it to address customers’ safety concerns. “Our motto is, ‘Know the products that you’re feeding your family;’ in other words, ‘know the quality and origin of the products you’re feeding your family.’”
Looking ahead, McMillan says that the company will continue to form partnerships. “We just formed a distribution network with Southern Foods in Bowling Green, Ky., and Brown [Foodservice] in Louisa, Ky.,” he says, noting that it is called the Kentucky Proud Distribution Network.
“Kentucky Proud is all about utilizing Kentucky land to produce local naturally healthy products,” he says.
He adds that Critchfield Meats also plans to work with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to promote aquaculture. “We’ll be selling and distributing locally grown prawns, [as well as] locally grown and farm-raised salmon and tilapia,” he says, noting that Alltech will be involved in this, as well.