Beef Marketing Through the Years
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Vice President, Global Marketing
On Behalf of Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the Beef Checkoff Program
From a profitability perspective, the world of most beef producers has been pretty good recently. Consumer demand for beef is strong, with total consumer expenditures for beef at a record high (up from $35-$40 billion annually in the 90s to more than $70 billion today). And we’re turning the corner on more than 30 years of misunderstanding about the role of beef in a balanced and varied diet.
In what seems like the blink of an eye, beef's position in the marketplace and in the court of public opinion has changed. How did this happen?
One compelling force for the turn was initiated by America's beef producers in the 1980s, when they came together and established the $1-per-head mandatory assessment on domestic cattle and imported cattle and beef. This move created the Beef Checkoff Program, a coordinated funding system that funds promotion, research and education programs at state, national and international levels. This established the road map for beef's comeback to the American table.
Through a system of advisory committees and state and national organizations, producers laid the groundwork for a two-step approach to achieving their goal of increased beef demand.
Step One: Increased research. The new consumer, and what makes him or her tick, was studied. The beef carcass was researched to determine the best qualities of its cuts and to maximize their usage. Studies that confirmed nutritional truths about beef in the diet were conducted. New techniques for improving food safety, a growing consumer concern, were uncovered and shared throughout the industry. Armed with research findings, producers could move forward with this information.
Step Two: Implementing Demand-Building Programs. Working with private industry, new beef products that delivered greater convenience were developed, such as heat-n-serve beef entries, which are now available in nearly all grocery stores. A new family of beef steaks, called Beef Value Cuts, was created as a result of Checkoff-funded muscle profiling research.
The retail meat case was reorganized and arranged by cooking method, with preparation instruction labels available, through a "Beef Made Easy" program.
More recognizably, a national “Beef It's What's For Dinner®” advertising campaign was initiated using actor Sam Elliot's voice, “Rodeo” music from Aaron Copeland and mouth-watering beef photography.
Advertising also compared the nutritional profile of lean beef with that of boneless, skinless chicken breast. Research shows that both sides of the effort are working.
But producers didn't stop there. Aggressive public relations with the nation’s media was enhanced, generating millions of positive consumer impressions annually. Working closely with dietitians, beef producers helped demonstrate that beef can fit balanced diets. New menu ideas were communicated to restaurant operators, and cooperative promotions were conducted on new beef entrees with restaurant chains like Boston Market and Quiznos.
Checkoff dollars were also used to augment issues management programs. When the first U.S. case of BSE was announced in December 2003, the industry was ready. Thanks partly to the Beef Checkoff’s issues management activities, consumer confidence in the safety of U.S. beef didn’t go down.
While it’s been a force, the Checkoff obviously can’t take all the credit for the industry’s changing fortunes. The government, educational institutions and private industry – including retailers, packers, processors and restaurant operators – have invested time and money, too.
But without the dollar-per-head Beef Checkoff Program serving as a catalyst, chances are much of this may not have happened.
The future can be similarly bright if beef producers keep their collective eyes on the ball and remember that industry wealth starts with a "beef sale" to a consumer. If they keep the consumer king, the industry can be exciting for this generation of beef producers and the next.
Peru Will Open to All Beef Products
According to the American Meat Institute, Peru will begin accepting all beef (boneless, bone-in and offal) and beef products effective with export certification dated May 31, 2006, or later. Peru has already started accepting fresh and frozen boneless beef and beef stomachs, kidneys and livers. This agreement was part of the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement.
To read the updated export requirements, visit the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Web site.
For more information, visit the American Meat Institute Web site.
Crop and Livestock Assistance Available for Hurricane Victims
Sign-up begins May 17 for four crop and livestock assistance programs providing aid to producers affected by 2005 hurricanes.
The four programs are the Livestock Indemnity Program, Feed Indemnity Program, Hurricane Indemnity Program and Tree Indemnity Program. To be eligible for this assistance, a producer's loss must have occurred in one of 261 counties that received a primary presidential or secretarial disaster designation due to 2005 Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Ophelia, Rita or Wilma.
For more information, visit the USDA Web site.
Student Workshop to Kick Off Cattle Industry Summer Conference
On July 10, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and American National CattleWomen Inc. (ANCW) will host the second annual “Student Day of Education - Knowledge and Practical Advice for a Successful Career.” It will be held as part of the Cattle Industry Summer Conference at the Reno Hilton in Reno, Nev., July 10-13.
This event is designed for high school seniors and college students in any agricultural course of study, or that have an interest in working in agriculture. For just $35 (which includes lunch and breaks), students will access information that can greatly assist them in their career search, as well as interact with beef industry leaders.
Students may also register for the entire Cattle Industry Summer Conference (including the Student Day of Education) for just $50 per person. Early registration for both the Student Day of Education and the entire conference opened May 11. Registration and hotel forms can be obtained on the NCBA Web site or by calling 303-694-0305. Students may direct questions about the educational workshop to Jackie Buehner at firstname.lastname@example.org.