To give you a brief refresher (after all, it was during calving season), the former Republican nominee Mitt Romney hit Trump with a blow to his ego during the primary campaign when he catalogued a string of failed Trump ventures – one being the infamous “Trump Steaks.”

Woolsey cassidy
Managing Editor / Ag Proud – Idaho
Cassidy is a contributing editor to Progressive Cattle and Progressive Forage magazines.

In an effort to defend his portfolio, Trump used a traditional victory speech after the Mississippi and Michigan primaries to parade an array of Trump-branded products. But what really caught everyone’s attention was the Bush Brothers Provision Company’s packaging behind Trump’s savory slabs of meat, not a “Trump” logo.

Although the mainstream media has already overly publicized the eponymous steak line and the “meaty” rumors have since died down, I decided to revisit the issue in hopes of wrangling more out of the topic – but this time with a beef journalist’s spin.

Grilling the issue

It wasn’t an easy feat to say the least, and I can’t quite say that I solved the “Trump Steak” riddle, but with a few hours of phone tag, lots of dead ends and several emails later, I finally came to some conclusions ... for the most part.

According to Nehl Horton, the spokesperson for Sysco, “Sysco does not produce and hasn’t produced – in almost 10 years now – any kind of a branded ‘Trump Steak.’” He’s referring to their brief business deal with Trump and his branded product that was sold via Sharper Image, better known for their tech gadgets, and QVC.


In 2007, Trump’s frozen steaks were available at Sharper Image stores and by mail-order catalog. In a promotional video, Trump boasted his steaks were “the world’s greatest steaks” and were “by far the best tasting, most flavorful beef you’ve ever had.” The Classic Collection – two filet mignons, two bone-in ribeyes and 12 burgers – was priced at a whopping $199, according to a report by ThinkProgress.

Though the promotion with Sharper Image died just months after it was launched, and the deal with QVC didn’t do much better, Trump adamantly says that his Trump Steak venture is still alive and well – it’s just more of a “small business,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in a combative interview the day after the press conference.

"Just a couple factual things. Those steaks you showed, those aren't actually Trump Steaks, right?" Cooper asked during the interview. In response to his question, Trump detailed his branded Trump Steak business, saying, “No, no, I buy them. … I’m not gonna kill the cow! We sell the steaks in my clubs – I have many clubs and hotels – we sell the steaks.”

Later, Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Trump’s campaign, told Bloomberg News in an email that Trump’s clubs and other properties allow patrons to purchase meat. She explained, “The meat is purchased from different locationally convenient purveyors and is always of the highest quality.”

So, is Trump telling the truth? Did the steaks never truly go extinct? Can you still buy a steak branded as such? As Horton mentioned, Sysco no longer produces anything branded as a Trump Steak. But they do sell products to various Trump properties across the U.S. Horton said he is not aware whether or not you can buy a Trump Steak at retail.

Facing the facts

This raised an eyebrow when I thought back to the cancelled trademark record I found on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website. But Davey Griffin, an extension meat specialist at Texas A&M University, reassured me that “as long as it is just a brand name and no one else has claimed the trademark, he can call them what he wants.” It’s no different than someone labeling a steak as a Kansas City strip or a New York strip – they’re just generic terms.

Griffin further explained that companies can “private label” products for other companies. Therefore, one of Trump’s companies could obtain steaks from an establishment that is inspected by the USDA and resell them under their own name or brand. But the steaks would be required to carry the mark of inspection and the name and address of the company that processed them.

“There are numerous companies that have been very successful that do not harvest the animal or cut them themselves, but they have the product packaged under their brand,” Griffin said. “You can pretty much go into any grocery store and find products that say ‘packaged for X.’”

And, as for the Bush Brothers packaging that had the media up in arms, Griffin said not to fret. “Unless Trump claims he raised the cattle, the meat is actually generic.”

The origin of Trump Steaks

So where do the steaks at Trump properties come from? Who produces the “world’s best tasting” steaks? As Trump told Cooper in the CNN interview, the meat comes from many, many different places.

I found out that Desert Meats in Las Vegas sells their meat to Trump’s Sin City hotel, and Bush Brothers, of course, sells to the Trump National Golf Club in Florida and a few other properties in the area. Also, with the help of a Washington Post article, I found that Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors in New Jersey sells to The Trump Tower grill, and Excel Fresh Meats in Kansas sells to the Wai’olu Ocean View lounge at Trump’s Waikiki property – none of which could help me locate a producer.

But if you understand anything about the beef industry, you know that there are some major players in the business – one of them being Sysco. Sysco owns Desert Meats, who I first called to track down the producers behind the steaks, and Buckhead Beef, who supplied the branded retail product nearly a decade ago.

I made numerous phone calls, but no one really wanted to talk about it (that’s when Sysco actually called me). When I asked Horton if he could help me find a producer who actually produces this product, he politely replied, “We don’t disclose specifics on the products we supply to our customers at various locations as that is proprietary information.”

So, I tried to go around Sysco and their affiliates by asking cattle associations and extension experts, but all to no avail. They were happy and eager to help, but they were unaware of any producers who sold their beef to these locations.

I was hitting dead ends until I stumbled upon Joyce Farms, a grass-fed beef and poultry business in North Carolina that sells their beef to Desert Meats. My questions sparked their interest, and they took it upon themselves to find out whether or not their beef goes to Trump properties.

Although Joyce Farms’ meat doesn’t go to Trump properties per say, Nate Morgan, a sales manager for Joyce Farms, said it’s a shame more can’t be said about the producers behind the product. He said, “Once the product goes to the distributor, it becomes exceedingly difficult to track who the end user is. I do not know if our meat is used for Trump Steaks or not.”

So, to answer the big question, “Are Trump Steaks still available?” The answer is yes and no. Yes, you can buy what Trump calls a “Trump Steak” at one of his properties, but no, they are no longer available through retail. So, could this be considered a “failed business venture”? That’s up to you to decide.  end mark

Cassidy Woolsey

PHOTO: As long as Trump doesn't claim to have raised the cattle, he can call the steaks sold at his properties whatever he wants. The meat is generic. Photo by Kristen Phillips. [Note: The steak is not a Trump Steak.]