THE QUALITY EQUATION
When they sit down for a meal, more than anything else consumers want food
that tastes great. Beef producers have a product that both tastes good and is
good for them. What should the beef industry do with this fact?
Through its checkoff program, a wealth of knowledge about beef and beef
eaters becomes the foundation for research, education and promotion programs
that establish benchmarks for beef quality, while providing guidelines for
delivering even more of those beef qualities that consumers want.
Obviously, it starts at the beginning.
THE 2016 NATIONAL BEEF QUALITY AUDIT
What cattle producers do to raise beef has an impact
on quality. Every five years since 1991 the beef
industry, through its Beef Checkoff Program, has
provided a set of guideposts and measurements for
cattle producers and others to help determine quality
conformance of the U.S. beef supply. Results from
the National Beef Quality Audit have helped lead to
improvements in cattle and beef production through
the years, including reductions in carcass blemishes
and fewer lost opportunities related to branding and
Reported in 2017, results from the 2016 NBQA, conducted for steers and heifers
as well as cows and bulls, show that the industry continues to improve the quality
of its product, and identifies where improvements can still be made. Among
the findings was a significant increase in USDA Choice and Prime carcasses,
and a high mobility score for cattle entering packing plants, which shows an
improvement in animal handling. The number of blemishes, condemnations and
other attributes that impact animal value remain small.
Improvements can still be made, however. The NBQA for steers and heifers
identified lost opportunities in hitting optimum carcass yield and grade targets
and reducing offal condemnation rates, particularly for livers, while among other
issues the cow and bull report identified opportunities to make progress by
implementing measures to eliminate carcass bruising on the farm, in transport
and at the packing facility.
To help tell the positive beef story, the checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance
Program, managed by NCBA as a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program,
helps beef producers understand the do’s and don’ts of raising high quality beef.
Consumers can learn more about how beef is produced through many checkoff-
funded programs that tell that story. The multiple efforts to connect with
consumers about issues have been highly successful. For example, research
conducted by IPSOS Public Affairs in 2016 showed that over 80 percent of
consumers graded fresh beef an A or B for safety.
Safety isn’t the only beef attribute on the radar. The checkoff-funded Consumer
Beef Index (CBI) shows that more than 70 percent of consumers consider beef to
be a good balance of taste and nutrition.
A TRAIL TO TENDERNESS
The checkoff-funded National Beef Tenderness Survey demonstrates
tenderness has improved significantly since 1990. In fact, there has been a 34
percent improvement in beef tenderness over that time.
Improvements in beef tenderness have remained fairly steady over the past
five years despite drought and other challenges that could have derailed its
progress. The 2015/2016 survey found that beef is delivering a good eating
DEAR FELLOW PRODUCERS,
Beef and great,
seem to go
on your birthday,
straight from the grill or wonderful
Sunday pot roast with the family not
only create immediate and delicious
taste sensations, but plant wonderful
memories in the brain.
Assuring that the beef in these
situations is the best it can be is
important. But what beef attributes are
most important to consumers when
they sit down to enjoy a beef meal?
And how do we measure how well
we’re doing in producing high quality
beef for them? How can we make
these beef-eating experiences even
Those are just a few of the questions
we ask ourselves through the Beef
Checkoff Program to assure that we’re
not just meeting consumer expectations
for wonderful beef experiences, but
exceeding them. This report shows
how the checkoff helps provide
measurements for beef quality that
are quantifiable, guidelines that are
reasonable and consumer insights
about quality that are helpful and
valuable. You will also learn about some
of the tools we’re using to communicate
quality and value to consumers.
The pursuit of quality is never-ending,
but at the same time satisfying and
rewarding. Beef is a great product that
already fills a consumer want. Making it
better is the icing on the cake.
Jerry Effertz, Chairman
Federation of State Beef Councils
experience to consumers. It also suggested the industry is
keeping its eye on the ball when it comes to protecting the
improvements in tenderness it has made.
Most steaks surveyed were considered tender. While cuts
from the round have a wonderful flavor profile they remain
an industry tenderness challenge. Increased efforts to
optimize aging practices and checkoff-funded consumer
education on proper cooking for cuts from the round and
other primals will help provide greater consumer satisfaction
AN EVOLVING CONSUMER
Knowing what the consumer wants, and how they go about
purchasing it, is at the heart of beef checkoff consumer
research and marketing efforts. The research is conducted
by the checkoff’s market research team using a variety of
surveys and data-driven consumer behavior and attitude
For instance, CBI research shows that beef performs well
on key quality attributes important to consumers. Almost 90
percent of consumers say beef is great tasting as well as a
great source of protein. A checkoff-funded steak satisfaction
tracker supports this, showing in a current survey that 90
percent of consumers say they were very satisfied with their
recent beef eating experiences.
Consumers who say they are planning to consume more
beef give their reasons as:
They prefer the taste (85 percent);
They want to add protein to their diet (77 percent);
They believe there is better availability of cuts (76 percent);
and They say beef is more of a family favorite (73 percent).
REACHING BEEF’S FINAL STOPS
The beef checkoff’s Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA) program
had acquired 10,000 graduates by 2017, providing consumers
with a link to producers who put quality beef on their tables.
Started in 2009, this group of beef and dairy producers –
along with chefs, teachers, doctors, dietitians and others in the
beef community – are equipped to engage with consumers
and encouraged to participate in advocacy efforts.
MBA graduates have put their skills to use in many ways,
from providing a rancher’s perspective for a magazine article
to promoting an MBA campaign. The Top of the Class, a
next-level advocate training program, regularly taps its
members for media interviews, speaking engagements and
other national opportunities.
Building on the program’s initial success, a new set of MBA
lessons were released in 2015, and an interactive app
for iPhone and Android introduced in 2016, giving MBA
graduates access to beef information at their fingertips.
Consumer beef marketing efforts use digital media that
include social and entertainment platforms such as
Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Hulu and others. The Beef.
It’s What’s For Dinner Facebook(www.facebook.com/
BeefItsWhatsForDinner/) page has more than 1 million
followers, and theBeefItsWhatsForDinner.com
circulated more than 1.4 million recipes.
The beef checkoff will have had more than 40 million
video views in 2017. This past year Facebook Live, for
instance, hosted a “Be Your Own Butcher” from the
checkoff’s Culinary Center that provided hands-on cutting
demonstration by a meat cutting expert, reaching nearly
OUTSIDE OUR BORDERS
Whether working to expand high-end
chilled beef exports to Asia, or helping
find new destinations for beef livers, the
Beef Checkoff Program’s international
marketing efforts are boosting global
demand for U.S. beef. In the first six
months of 2017, U.S. exports totaled
606,876 metric tons (mt) – an increase
of 12 percent over the first half of 2016.
Export value increased 15 percent to
$3.35 billion, which equates to about $270 for every fed
steer and heifer slaughtered – up 8 percent year-over-year.
Beef exports to leading market Japan exceeded last year’s
pace by 23 percent in volume (150,812 mt) and 28 percent
in value ($905.8 million). Exports to South Korea were up
13 percent in volume (83,357 mt) and 21 percent in value
($527.7 million). Chilled beef exports to Japan and Korea
were up 40 percent and 83 percent, respectively, as the U.S.
captured more than 50 percent of both countries’ chilled
The beef checkoff will also play a major role in reintroducing
U.S. beef to meat buyers in China, which in June reopened
to U.S. beef for the first time since 2003.
CATTLEMEN’S BEEF BOARD
FISCAL YEAR 2017 EXPENDITURES
Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $9,102,863
Consumer Information . . . . . . . . . . $7,913,258
Industry Information . $4,180,808
Foreign Marketing . $8,140,797
Producer Communications . . . . . . $1,498,613
Evaluation . $202,832
Program Development . $292,090
USDA Oversight . $465,853
Administration . $1,796,725
TOTAL EXPENSES . . . . . . . . . . . . . $41,464,917
*This total also includes CBB’s costs associated with Freedom of Information Act requests
and legal fees associated with lawsuits.