Our monthly business report—in short
What consumers want
Beef reigns supreme in consumers’ protein choices, according to research released earlier this year from West Texas A&M University. Nearly half of consumers surveyed put beef as their No. 1 protein choice, and 97% indicated they ate beef between one and 12 times each week.
The study, “Consumers’ perceptions and preferences of meat and the meat industry,” was the result of doctoral research conducted by Lindsay Chichester, Canyon, Texas. She looked at the whole range of popular opinion on meat.
“We were trying to gauge consumer preferences, what their concerns were, and what they’re not concerned with,” Chichester says. “I think as an industry that’s where we need to go – our consumers are obviously the ones who support us and keep us in business.”
Branding is big. Digging into details, 65% of consumers preferred some type of branded beef. Among them, the largest breakout group, 28%, preferred their steaks branded as Angus beef. Chichester’s academic advisor, animal scientist Ty Lawrence, says that proves the power of marketing. “A lot of that is obviously going to tie back to the recognition of a brand like Certified Angus Beef ®, ” he says.
The term “Angus” outweighed any other branding term, including Prime, tender, organic and grass-fed in consumers’ perception, but branding with words is not enough. Consumers are looking for quality behind those terms, Lawrence points out.
“The data also indicated customers say they want a higher quality cut of meat,” Lawrence says. When asked to visually identify the desirable amount of marbling in a steak, 49% selected Modest or Moderate marbling – the same level required for Certified Angus Beef ® brand acceptance.
Marbling matters. “CAB’s marbling criteria overall was the largest sector of what consumers indicated they wanted – average Choice or better,” Chichester says. Another 20% of the population indicated a desire for Slightly Abundant or Moderately Abundant marbling, fitting into the Prime and CAB Prime category.
These results outline a clear challenge to cattle producers, Lawrence says. “Twenty percent preferred Prime-level marbling, while the beef population is at 2.5% Prime, maybe 3% on a good day. So we’re 17% short of the Prime population our consumers say they want.”
With nearly 70% of the population indicating they preferred upper Choice or higher, he says, “It’s phenomenal what consumers say they would prefer in comparison to what we actually have to offer them.”
Most consumers, 83%, make those purchases at a supermarket, where competition rules the meat case. They are most concerned with price, color of the meat, the amount of edible product and marbling. “So we’re still looking at price, color, yield and quality,” Lawrence says. “The customers want their best combination of quality and cutability at a price they deem reasonable – and that’s different for everybody.”
Premiums paid. Results did indicate 56% of consumers were willing to pay a premium for all-natural products like CAB brand Natural. However, it also indicated consumers were unsure of the true meaning behind a “natural” label, Chichester pointed out. “Producers should know they have a market for natural products,” she says. But it comes with a need for producers to better define and educate consumers about what those labels mean, Lawrence says.
The survey also pointed out a need to correct misperceptions. One-third of consumers thought eating meat from animals treated with antibiotics would make them “resistant to antibiotics.” Another 57% said they were concerned that animal mistreatment is widespread in the industry.
“We have some education to do,” Lawrence says. “And we have a long way to go in showing our consumer base that animal husbandry is alive and well in production.”
Online cheat sheet
Interactive tools on certifiedangusbeef.com are making beef buying and cooking easier for consumers. The brand recently launched new sections on its Web site to help consumers make educated and informed shopping decisions. The site has all the information beef lovers need to select, purchase and prepare healthful Certified Angus Beef ® brand dishes.
The Beef Cuts section details the most popular cuts of beef available today. Whether visitors select filet mignon, New York strip steaks or a top round roast, they will find selection tips, preparation methods and favorite recipes appropriate for each cut, as well as alternative names. They can also view photos of the cut as seen in the grocer’s meat case. The beef cuts chart is a cheat sheet of sorts, for beef buyers.
An enhanced recipe section includes main dishes, appetizers, side dishes and more. Best of all, the recipes are organized in categories according to cooking method.
Visitors will also enjoy reading about producers dedicated to raising high-quality beef for the brand. Consumers can choose a state or region of the country, then view photos and brief biographies about these ranching families. From caring for cattle to protecting the environment, consumers will learn how America’s cattlemen and women are committed to quality.
An Angus Foundation fundraiser purchase brought Lisa Hyer and son, Ben, of Oklahoma, to the CAB Wooster office for cooking school with the culinary team. The Hyers joined Certified Angus Beef LLC President John Stika and wife, Deanna, for a chef’s table dinner. They watched while Chef Scott Popovic prepared the meal, and enjoyed learning new techniques and asking questions. On day two, Chef Michael Ollier and meat expert, Kyle Miller, shared beef facts and provided the Hyers with valuable hands-on cooking techniques. They also had a chance to develop their own recipes.
Joining the likes of Verizon Wireless, Kellogg Co., Merrill Lynch and General Mills Inc., Certified Angus Beef LLC, approximately 100 employees strong, has been recognized by the American Heart Association as a Platinum Level Start! Fit-Friendly Company. The designation, earned by only 170 organizations across the nation, recognizes companies who help their employees eat better and move more.
“Employee wellness and physical activity are important priorities at Certified Angus Beef, and we are honored and excited to be recognized by the American Heart Association,” said Pam Cottrell, director of human resources. “The objective of our health and wellness program is to help employees manage, improve and make healthy lifestyle choices by providing them with the information and tools they need to reach their goals.”
In the mood for mouthwatering? Celebrate Valentine’s Day with this tantalizing recipe featuring Certified Angus Beef ® brand short ribs, raspberries and a bit of brown sugar. Not only is it tasty, it’s looks elegant and romantic on the dinner table.
Short Ribs with Raspberry Barbecue Sauce
5 pounds Certified Angus Beef ® short ribs
Water, as needed
2 cups frozen raspberries
9 ounces prepared barbecue sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 250°F. Season short ribs generously with salt and pepper; gently rub into meat. Place ribs into large baking pan with high sides and fitted with a metal rack. Pour approximately 1 to 2 inches water into the bottom of the pan; do not cover ribs with water. Cover tightly with foil or lid and roast 4 hours; do not uncover during roasting.
2. Place raspberries in blender with 1/4 cup water and pureé. Strain through a metal sieve to remove seeds; discard seeds.
3. Mix together barbecue sauce, brown sugar and remaining 1/4 cup water into raspberry pureé.
4. Remove ribs from oven. Brush with barbecue sauce and grill 5 minutes on each side. Slice and serve.
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Recipe provided by the Certified Angus Beef ® brand
For further information contact Jennifer Kiko, 800-225-2333, Ext. 265.