On Tuesday, Lory Student Center Spoons Soups & Salads’ menu included High Plains Buffalo Chili a new choice that is one of several buffalo-based menu items that will be featured once a week for the next month.
The addition of buffalo meat to the menu, according to Spoons Soups & Salads owner Tom Stoner, is in support of a CSU marketing study by Thilmany, comparing marketing strategies to bring consumers bison meat products.
“Bison is something we’ve always featured,” Stoner said in an interview. He added that his support is “really about the promotion [of bison].”
Thilmany, an agricultural and resource economics professor at CSU, has partnered with Spoons Soups & Salads to help the National Bison Association determine which marketing strategy between the Fort Collins operated company and several restaurants in Salt Lake City works more efficiently.
“With this project, CSU will evaluate how consumer attitudes, awareness and sales related to bison are affected by joint promotional activities with chef and food retailer partners,” Thilmany said in a CSU press release. “Our findings may allow us to make more affordable, targeted marketing strategy recommendations to smaller food producers.”
Spoons, where bison is used on a regular basis, is the only Fort Collins restaurant featured in the study, while Salt Lake City restaurants will have more extensive promotional campaigns.
“It’s kind of a way to match up with his business model. It seems like it’s been a popular addition to the Student Center,” Thilmany said.
Results have proven his theory.
“When we have a buffalo soup, it usually sells better than average soups,” Lory Student Center Spoons Manager Zubin Mufti said.
Stoner said that bison is not a huge seller, but he tries to feature it often.
“I love it because it’s lean,” Stoner said. “It provides diversity.”
Thilmany said bison may not be as popular of a product because people have not heard of it being used as often.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily better, I think it just hasn’t gotten the exposure that other animals get,” Thilmany said.
Thilmany said that people might use bison meats more often because they think it is more sustainable, lean and part of Colorado’s heritage.
“We’ve always tried to have hometown themes,” Mufti said, explaining that bison is a regional meat.
The only problem with buffalo on the menu, according to Mufti, is that many students confuse the meat with the spicy “buffalo”-style sauce used for chicken wings.
“A lot of people don’t think it’s real buffalo,” Mufti said.
Senior Reporter Johnny Hart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org