Lang’s to close meat market
Lang’s Meat Market will soon close after nearly 40 years, owners Pat and Kim Lang announced last week.
The retail part of the business will remain open for the week, the Langs said during a recent interview. “We’ll be open until our inventory is down and all orders are filled.”
The company stopped the custom meat processing on June 1, but the retail part of the business remains open.
In days gone by, an independent butcher shop was a common fixture in Minnesota towns.
Even today, at a time of increasing demand for locally grown food, a recent study found dozens of small butcher shops could close if nothing is done to shore up the industry, an industry where two-thirds of the owners are at or near retirement age. And it’s not just the owners who are getting older. Half of the state’s small meat processing plants are over 40 years old, the survey found.
One of the problems, Pat Lang says, is a lack of training programs in the meat processing industry. Vocational schools offer fewer training programs today than they did several decades ago to teach the skills for meat processing, sausage making and meat business management. There currently are no programs offered in Minnesota.
Pat and Kim are both lifetime residents of Springfield and graduated from Springfield High School. Pat continued his education at the Pipestone Campus of Minnesota West Community and Technical College in their meat and sausage program. He then worked a few years as a meat cutter in various grocery stores and in an area meat market. He later continued his education in meat inspection. Kim attended Willmar Area Vocational Technical College where she studied business sales management and retail marketing. They purchased the meat market and meat processing business from Joe and Elvira Baier in 1978. They started their business in the back area of the building on Cass Avenue, and remodeled the middle of the building for their retail area. They expanded to the front area of the building for retail in 2002.
The Langs understood the changes that took place in the meat processing industry and accepted the challenges. Years ago, when almost every farmer raised some livestock, farm families brought in livestock to have processed for their own consumption as almost all had large families. As families became smaller, the trend changed to more retail. Consumers were buying meat fresh for the week and a small amount for freezers. In recent years, consumers are again buying for the freezer and seeking out the small farm quality meats processed at meat markets. Even when livestock production shifted towards larger operations with processing at large, distant plants, and a decline in cattle and hog production on family farms, there are plenty of farmers who still raise their own beef and pork and have it processed locally.
See complete story in this week's edition of the Springfield Advance-Press.