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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.


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

other practices.

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.


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


Beef and great,




seem to go

together. A

succulent steak

on your birthday,

juicy summer


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

more memorable?

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.

Yours truly,

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

with tenderness.


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

research tools.

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).


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


BeefItsWhatsForDinner/) page has more than 1 million

followers, and the

website has

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

140,000 consumers.


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

beef market.

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.



Promotion. $7,871,078

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

Unaudited Numbers

*This total also includes CBB’s costs associated with Freedom of Information Act requests

and legal fees associated with lawsuits.