College students are the next generation of educated consumers. We strive to meet the college consumer in all aspects of their life, both on and off campus, with the goal of having the Niman Ranch brand at the front of their mind upon graduation. Our sales directors have worked hard to get beef, pork, lamb and processed products into 32 schools across the country, and growing!
The enthusiasm we build with our dining service partners often translates into meaningful opportunities that allow us to take a more intimate approach with their students. Whether through a demo, an information booth or product sponsorship, we enjoy interacting with students ourselves. Below are some examples of how we’ve worked with universities to build a relationship with students on campus.
Colorado University – Boulder, CO
Name of the event: Chef Billy’s BBQ’n Buffs Throwdown
What happened: This was a BBQ Pittmaster-style contest where three teams from each kitchen within CU Dining Services prepared smoked brisket, pulled pork and chicken wings. A panel of celebrity CU faculty judged the three dishes in search of the official winner while students sampled and voted for the “people’s favorite.” This was an event focused on building camaraderie between CU dining staff and students, providing something “different and fun” for those on the Buff meal plan. The event was very festive, with event tents, red checkered everything and even a blue-grass band!
How Niman Ranch was involved: In all, the teams smoked a combined 600# of brisket for the competition, which we provided a discount on. We also had a display table where students could pick up information on Niman Ranch. Mel Coleman and Kay Cornelius engaged students in conversation about our raising principles and the brand. They gave out over 200 stickers, pocket guides and magnets to students who were interested.
Niman Ranch products offered on campus: Bacon and Split St. Louis ribs in their Dining Center’s “Smokehouse.”
Yale University – New Haven, CT
Name of the event: Final Cut
What happened: What are the best dishes you can create with low-sodium beans and fish in under 60 minutes, for less than $3.30 a plate, and in front of more than 1,000 people? That was the culinary challenge that undergraduate chefs faced at this year’s Final Cut competition.
Three undergraduate students from each college, or dormitory, on campus formed a team to compete in this Chopped-style competition. New York Times food critic and author Stephanie Lyness, Yale College dean Mary Miller, and Yale Dining executive director Rafi Taherian served as this year’s judges, scoring each team on preparation techniques, cooking skills, and their dishes’ taste. The top three winners received a cash prize, with those coming in 1st place receiving a trophy to display in their dining hall.
How Niman Ranch was involved: We participated as a Gold Sponsor, with Sean Keefe sampling our products while handing out point of sale materials from a booth during the event. We were able to interact with students and adults alike, and even had our logo on the students’ chef jackets in the competition.
Niman Ranch products offered on campus: Beef, pork, ground lamb and processed.
DePaul University – Chicago, IL
Type of event: Niman Ranch demo in the Lincoln Park Dining Hall.
How the demo worked: Results Sales and Marketing set up a booth in the dining hall and demoed some of our products. This was a “get to know us” event where they had the opportunity to share a lot about the Niman Ranch story – about our family farming, humane animal care and other attributes. Jason Given from Results Marketing had a table loaded with burger “bites” and sausage samplers for the students. He offered a sausage tasting where the students voted for their favorite sausage flavor. The winning sausage flavor will then be offered starting April 1, 2015, in the dining area.
Niman Ranch products on campus: Niman Ranch burgers and all-beef hot dogs. Starting in April they will also be serving the winning Niman Ranch sausage.