Retail manager Thomas Estevez makes a quick lap around the University of Florida Meat Processing Center store to check on how the pork and beef cuts are selling.
“See that pork over there?” he asks. “It was walking around on Wednesday,” he answers to explain how fresh the meat cuts are.
The meat retail store is buzzing with customers in the know. Every Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. the doors open and buyers flock to the display cases and freezers filled with the outcome of UF animal science class processing labs.
The USDA inspected facility is a teaching facility that processes pork and beef plus takes on wild venison and boar at customer requests.
The money from the sales helps recoup the cost of the animals and pays the student assistants on staff.
“All of the money we generate pays for supplies and wages,” said lab assistant Angel Hernandez who works at the center and found his passion in meat processing.
“By the end of the day these fresh cases will be pretty low,” he said. Besides time at the center and retail store, Hernandez said he works with UF to help slaughterhouses throughout the state.
“At the end of the day they’ve got to have a source of protein whether it’s plant-based or meat,” he said about the reality of meat consumption.
When the center does process requests, Hernandez said the customer brings in the skinned and quartered meat and the staff and students will divide it into requested cuts or make sausage, burger, roasts or stew meat out of it.
The store even has dog bones for sale at 99 cents per pound.
UF student Emma Schoenfeld is pursuing an animal science degree and is on the pre-vet track to work with food animals.
On Fridays she helps keep cases full and also runs the cash register where customers are required to pay by cash or check only.
The costs per pound are on par with local markets. Beef sirloin tips are $7.89 per pound, top sirloin fillet is $9.49 per pound, and sliced bacon runs $5.99 per pound.
A complete list of offerings can be found here. The department also sells sides of beef, beef hindquarters and roasting pig.
Estevez said the top seller is the ribeye, but he highly recommends the center’s signature beef cut known as the “Gator Griller.”
“It’s a shoulder steak cut at a different angle,” Estevez said. “It eats like a sirloin.”
The store is located at 2250 Shealy Drive in Gainesville next to the UF College of Veterinary Medicine.