The 3 R's (Research, Research & Research)
What is research but a blind date with knowledge?
- William J. Henry, 19th Century British chemist
Research is an organized method of finding out what you are going to do when you can’t keep on doing what you are doing now.
- Charles F. Kettering, American engineer and inventor
Although it wasn’t initially planned this way, the Winter 2012 Beef Issues Quarterly could be called the research edition. All of the articles, as well as this quarter’s Q&A, are based directly or indirectly on research, data and statistics. This ranges through consumer attitudes and preferences, supply and demand, beef product analysis, nutrition science, sustainability analysis, beef innovation to meet product distribution demand and some statistical analysis that shows growth opportunities for U.S. beef in Central/South America.
Consumer research conducted by the checkoff adheres to the fundamental principle of research: Never use research the way a drunk uses a lamppost – that is, for support rather than illumination. Three illuminating checkoff-funded consumer studies are reported in this edition of BIQ.
Millennials and beef: rewards and challenges
The checkoff market research team is continuing its analysis of the Millennial generation (aka, the market of the future) to understand this large and critical generation’s relationship with beef. Wendy Neuman, NCBA Director of Market Research, reports on a recent study examining how Millennials incorporate beef into their lifestyles and looks at how they value beef as well as the challenges they experience in incorporating beef into their diets.
The premier protein in foodservice
I report on a study of consumer perceptions of beef at restaurants. With tighter beef supplies and associated higher costs in 2012, some foodservice operators may consider reducing or eliminating beef options on their menus as a cost-cutting measure. This study found, however, that beef is a food that brings patrons into the restaurant, which provides satisfying and memorable meals and is the clear favorite among consumers when they visit a restaurant. Even with some concerns about price, one-third of restaurant patrons order steak often because they think it is worth the price.
Explaining the feedyard
One of the core strategies in the Industry-Wide Long Range Plan is to “strengthen the image of beef and the beef industry.” A key to doing that is to find ways to make the feeding sector more transparent and more understandable to consumers. I report on a three phase checkoff-funded message development study – two qualitative steps followed by a large quantitative study – that found messages which made the feedyard more transparent improved consumers’ knowledge of beef production and improved beef acceptance.
Meat Case Preferences
Changing consumer meat case preferences
Meghan Pusey, Director of Public Relations for the NCBA Channel Marketing Team, reports on research presented at the American Meat Institute’s 2012 Annual Meat Conference. The AMI 2012 Power of Meat survey found that consumers have mastered the use of a variety of tactics to save money in the supermarket including dialing their meat spending up or down depending on their personal budgets. Although price has traditionally dominated purchase decisions, consumers now are looking more at a combination of price, total package cost and promotions and sales to make meat buying decisions.
Supply & Demand
Trend analysis: Beef supply & demand
Recent media stories have cited a United States Department of Agriculture report that shows a decrease in beef production and resultant smaller beef supply which produces a lower per capita consumption poundage number. A number of media articles have failed to understand that available supply is not an indicator of demand and have drawn the conclusion consumers are eating less beef due to concerns about health and wellness or beef production practices. NCBA’s John Lundeen and Season Solorio, and Cattle Fax’s Tod Kalous examine the fundamentals of beef supply and point out how beef demand is increasing in the face of tighter supplies.
National beef tenderness survey
Tenderness is a critical component of beef ’s palatability and helps drive consumer enjoyment and beef demand. With funding from the beef checkoff, the beef industry has been tracking beef tenderness for 20 years through the National Beef Tenderness Survey. The survey is conducted every five years to provide a report card on beef tenderness at retail and foodservice. Bridget Wasser, Senior Director, Meat Science and Technology at NCBA, reports on the methodology and findings of the fourth national tenderness survey. The most recent survey, conducted in 2010 and 2011, found that beef tenderness levels remain high for popular cuts at both retail and foodservice. The least tender cuts continue to be those from the round, suggesting the need for improved aging practices for rounds cuts and increased consumer education focused on proper preparation and cooking techniques for these cuts.
Nutrition & Health
Are scientists rethinking saturated fat and heart disease?
Since the first dietary guidelines were issued in 1980, changes in breeding and management along with trimming practices of processors, retailers and foodservice operators, has led to an estimated 44 percent reduction in total fat and a 29 percent reduction in saturated fat per capita contributed to the U.S. food supply by beef. Yet, despite the availability of leaner beef in today’s marketplace, health professionals tend not to recommend beef consumption because of saturated fat content and it is a reason consumers are hesitant to eat more beef. Shalene McNeil, NCBA Executive Director of Nutrition Research, reviews recent research and new lines of evidence that suggest limiting various sources of saturated fat as a means to reducing heart disease may be oversimplifying the science. A new scientific dialog is emerging that asks whether saturated fat restriction should be a primary focus for improving heart health.
Q&A with Cristian Barcan of BASF
The checkoff has engaged the BASF corporation to conduct a Beef Industry Sustainability Assessment which will look at the beef production chain and analyze areas for potential sustainability improvement including emissions, energy and resource consumptions, land use, water consumption, animal health as well as welfare, social and economic issues and traceability. BIQ editors sat down with Cristian Barcan, BASF senior executive team leader for BASF Nutrition & Health to talk about sustainability and the beef industry assessment project.
We need to go grocery shopping so let’s drive over to the….. drug store? Food distribution is ever changing with specialty stores, pharmacies and others offering meat products and supermarkets operating restaurants onsite. To meet new food distribution needs, and the associated consumer demand, the beef industry is creating new packaging technologies, size variety and new preparation methods. John Lundeen, NCBA Senior Executive Director of Market Research, and Steve Wald, NCBA Executive Director of Beef Innovations, take us through a number of case studies that illustrate food distribution evolution. They also review new thinking, new processes and evolving technologies designed to help beef better serve current and new food distribution players.
Expanding market share in Central/
The region of Central and South America typically doesn’t make headlines for beef imports because most people think first of Brazil as a beef export powerhouse along with Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay. However, Jessica Julca, USMEF/Peru and Erin Borror, USMEF Economist, report that other countries in the region are quietly showing the kind of potential that excites U.S. beef exporters who benefit from being able to provide a year-round supply of high-quality, affordable grain-fed beef. They note that U.S.
exporters will need to account for special requirements, ranging from Chile’s labeling requirements to Peru’s preference for cleaned hearts, but the region is beginning to develop an appreciation for U.S. beef that should continue to grow and may evolve into one of those difference-making markets.
In defense of food safety leadership
The commentary in this edition of Beef Issues Quarterly is a powerful statement on the need for food safety innovation by a noted food safety advocate – Nancy Donley who is the founder of STOP Foodborne Illness, a national non-profit public health organization dedicated to preventing illness and death from foodborne pathogens. Ms. Donley founded STOP after her only son, 6-year old Alex, died in 1993 from hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) caused by eating ground beef contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. Ms. Donley speaks eloquently in support of technology that improves the safety of beef such as the process used in producing Lean Finely Textured Beef. She speaks from personal experience and knowledge of the beef production process and decries the misinformation campaigns currently being waged against this product and its categorization as “pink slime.”
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Issue Analysis and Strategy
National Cattlemen's Beef Association