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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Amazon met this week with a dozen U.S. ranchers with an eye to expanding distribution of organic and grass-fed meats.

Analysts and investors have speculated that Amazon, which is acquiring Whole Foods Markets, aims to combine its expertise in order fulfillment with the grocer's facilities to build-out delivery of fresh food, but the online retailer has not yet detailed its plans, a Fortune article says.

Amazon visited Georgia grass-fed meat producer White Oak Pastures in March – two-and-a-half months before announcing its US$13.7-billion Whole Foods acquisition – to discuss a possible distribution deal, White Oak owner Will Harris told Reuters.

The retailer later asked the farmer to invite other U.S. livestock producers to discuss distribution of organic and grass-fed meat, Harris added.

"We are excited about exploring possibilities with them," Harris said. "It suggests that this niche in the market is becoming mainstream enough that they feel their delivery system might have traction with it."

U.S. sales of organic meat and poultry, worth US$991 million, climbed 17 per cent last year, marking its fastest-ever annual growth, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA).

Amazon's expansion in organic products through Whole Foods bodes well for the sector, said Nate Lewis, farm policy director at OTA. "If Amazon can apply its efficiencies of scale to the Whole Foods Market segment, and pass along those savings (to consumers), I would not be surprised to see more growth in the protein side," Lewis said.

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