The beef industry is broken, said Chris Kovac, sitting just an ironic stone’s throw away from the historic Kansas City Stockyards.
“We should all educate ourselves on what we’re eating and who we’re buying our food from,” the founder of River Watch Beef said, impassioned as he shared his concern for the health of consumers.
“Most animals do not have a 100-percent natural diet. They’re given all kinds of additives. In fact, they’re given food waste of [products like] Twinkies and Skittles,” Kovac said.
Launched in 2016, Kovac’s company specializes in producing grass-fed beef and beef jerky made with minimal, all-natural ingredients.
“Grass-fed beef — because it’s raised free range and not confined — it’s able to eat native grass, which has a much higher vitamin content, it has lower fat, it’s got more antioxidant vitamins,” he said.
River Watch Beef aims to transform the mindset of an industry Kovac has come to know through his deep family roots in agriculture and agribusiness. Research and realization combined to form Kovac’s outlook on mainstream beef producers, he said, describing an industry that’s become poisonous.
“We were able to acquire a small piece of property in Colorado about 11 years ago, which is an active cattle ranch,” Kovac said. “That was one of the first epiphanies for me that, ‘Hey, the beef business is really different than I would have expected.’”
As Kovac, who previously worked in marketing, spent vacation days working the land in Colorado, he developed a love for animals and compassionate handling. The combination of the two generated the early ideation for River Watch Beef, he said.
“They’re starting with bad ingredients with the animals, in their feed, to begin with,” Kovac said, detailing the style of ranching operations he’s rebelling against. “And so it’s kind of like ‘bad food in, bad food out’ — it’s a poor quality of the animal.”
Armed with a “farm-to-fork” philosophy, beef jerky has quickly become a sought after product for River Watch Beef, Kovac said. The company currently markets three flavors of jerky –– mild, teriyaki, and sweet peppered –– aged for 21 days. Products are also free of GMOs, antibiotics, and added hormones.
“We want to make sure that everything is 100-percent safe from a reliable source for you and your family,” he said.
Tales of days gone serve as creative fuel for the team behind River Watch Beef. The flavors of the company’s jerky were inspired by family recipes, Kovac said.
“We used to talk with the cowboys –– and we still do –– and you tend to not be able to pack a lunch when you’re out there,” he said. “So, a lot of people eat beef jerky and they would tell us about their grandpas and great-grandpas on the range and they all have family recipes for their jerky. So we’re able to experiment.”
As the company extends its reach, Kovac intends to expand upon his belief that beef should be pure, he said.
“The future is to build additional relationships in Kansas City with the food service industry,” he added.
Kovac hopes River Watch Beef will be stocked in local grocery stores by the end of the year. In the meantime, the company’s products can be purchased here.