In class

Learning about American beef

Today was a day full of classroom learning for us at National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Young Cattlemen’s Conference. While we are all members of the beef industry in some way, it always amazes me how much more there is to learn, particularly from industry leaders.

Forrest Roberts, CEO for NCBA told the group the vision of “acting right” as an organization. NCBA’s core values are symbolized in the acronym ACT RT, which stands for accountability, commitment to the mission, teamwork, respect and trust.

It’s important for the beef industry to work toward improving the perception of beef, Roberts said. While 77 percent of consumers have a positive image of beef, and that’s good, improving that number to 80 percent would have a huge impact on the beef industry. And the focus should be on the “moveable middle,” the consumers who are already eating beef but could be encouraged to eat it more often.

We also heard from Chancie Rose, with Cargill. We’ve always known that beef costs more than competing proteins. In 2011, Rose said beef prices were 41 percent higher than pork and 173 percent higher than chicken. But, we also know the great taste of beef can not be replicated. Consumers look for overall eating satisfaction in tenderness, juciness and flavor.

Retailers know that those qualities are key to consumers as well. Cathy East, Group Director of Perishables for Safeway said that was the main reason behind the company establishing Ranchers Reserve, a 14-day wet aged branded beef product.

“Our quality objective is to offer beef that is considerably better and more consistent, tender, flavorful and juicy,” East said. The grocery story chain verfies the consistent tenderness by doing their own ongoing shear force test and sensory panel evaluations.

The YCC class will visit one of the flagship Safeway stores here in Denver on Sunday.

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