A cut above: Acre Station touts quality of service

Published 11:10 pm Saturday, October 16, 2010

Special to the Daily News

Acre Station Meat Farm is a unique family-owned business based in Terra Ceia, but it’s more than that. It’s a local business competing against the Food Lions and Piggly Wigglys — grocery-store chains with more resources.
Ronnie and Richard Huettman inherited the business from their father, Ernst, who came to the area in 1977 from New Jersey. The business started as a custom butcher shop and retail outlet. After their father died in 1987, the Huettmans and their mother, Nancy, continued the business. They opened another store in Williamston in 1987, but it closed in 1997.
Ronnie Huettman currently runs the retail side of Acre Station Meat Farm. He explained that custom meat processing is becoming a bigger trend.
“There is a large concern in the population about food safety. People are losing a certain amount of trust in their food source. It’s not like it was 20 or 30 years ago when people were feeling comfortable. People are not putting a price tag on their meat; they are relating it more to good health,” he said.
Acre Station’s slaughtering and processing operations come under Talmadge-Aiken inspections, which are made daily by a trained meat and poultry inspector, according to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ website. As a Talmadge-Aiken facility, Acre Station may ship its products outside of North Carolina. The meat department in retail outlet comes under inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The inspection process involves sending meat samples to a laboratory where they are tested for diseases such as E. coli or salmonella. Most of Acre’s Station’s samples go to a laboratory in Wisconsin.
Huettman named Wine &Words/BackBay Café, Hog Heaven, George’s Sports and Oyster Bar, Pam’s Place, Whole Town Country Kitchen and Beaufort County Medical Center as some local businesses that buy some of their food from Acre Station.
Huettman said those customers do business with Acre Station because of the quality of service it provides them.
“They physically come here and pick out their purchases. We package that for them to carry back to their restaurant. It is burdensome for people to come over, but they get quality service,” he said.
Acre Station has been utilizing the Internet to enhance and increase its business. Customers may go online and arrange for an order to be delivered to them. Customers usually get their orders one to two days after they have placed it, according to Huettman. Customers from places as far off as Alaska, Hawaii, California and New York have placed orders.
The Huettmans use local news outlets to promote their business. They will appear in a Beaufort County “Meet the Business” advertisement in October, and then on WNCT-TV, which is based in Greenville.
Huettman explained that the future of his family’s business will depend on how they develop their local products.
“What we see that is going to be carrying us into the future is the fact that people are going to want to be building the relationship with the farmer. They want to know where their product is originating from, how it was handled and how it was raised,” he said.