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Quality Wins, Again

By Morgan Boecker

Even with more marbling than ever in today’s beef, the market still demands more of the best, said Sara Scott, vice president of foodservice for Certified Angus Beef. She spoke at the recent Feeding Quality Forum in Lincoln, Nebraska.

“We don’t win at the meat case because of price,” she said. “We win because of taste.”

Without ever owning beef that carries the brand’s logo, CAB sales marketing teams support its licensed partners that do. Through training, one-on-one discussions and focused empowerment, those partners gain confidence to talk about the brand to their customers.

“When you are selling beef, it can be extremely intimidating,” Scott said. “There are a lot of cuts and it’s typically one of the most expensive items they’re selling.”

The pressure is on, especially right now as market dynamics shift and beef supplies tighten. Sharing supply dynamics ensures the thousands of sales reps selling CAB are confident even as prices go up.

“We get to go out and get those people fired up and excited about selling Certified Angus Beef ® and selling it at a premium to other products,” Scott said.

Creating an Easy Button
Navigating price sensitivity means highlighting the added value CAB brings to the table. Cattle and beef markets may careen up and down, but consumers bring stability by choosing premium beef again as they venture back to restaurants post-COVID.

That’s reassuring, but labor and supply challenges still join worries over keeping menus stocked and creating growth for prepared and packaged beef. Those further-processed items include meatballs, flavored patties, marinated cuts, pot roast or other pre-cooked items with ingredients added, Scott explained.

“Restaurants have really gravitated to these items because of labor. We like to say that prepared and packaged items always show up for work. They’re never late and they’re never cranky,” she said. “The same is true at the meat case. A busy mom can grab these pre-cooked items and prepare dinner for her family.”

These convenience items rarely come from traditional, highly sought-after cuts, but rather from the round or thin meats. That adds more value to the entire beef carcass.

“It makes it that much more beneficial to a producer to raise cattle that qualify for the Certified Angus Beef ® brand, because it’s not just the ribeyes that are in high demand, we need the entire carcass,” she said.

Convenient Shifts
Easy and timesaving are one thing, but expectations are also for beef to taste great.

Take a look at your convenience store and gas station at lunch. It’s probably bustling, Scott said. Instead of keeping people at the pumps, these stores are pulling them inside with better and more food options.

“If you’re a restaurant or a retail store in that same town, you have to offer something of greater quality and better value than that gas station,” she added.

Instead of just topping off the tank and grabbing a bag of candy and chips, they’re offering a pizza you can take home for dinner. It’s an effort to capture more consumer dollars, and challenging restaurants to step up their game and offer something of higher quality and value, Scott said.

Prime Opportunities
CAB’s role is to find opportunities for premium beef, but also to meet consumers where they are. They continue to vote with their pocketbooks for high-quality beef.

As conversations around Prime grow, so do questions about availability.

“Is it available? Can I get my hands on it?” Scott said those are the leading questions. “So there is absolutely the demand to continue to produce more and more Prime.”

Lacking a steady supply of CAB Prime sometimes brings a need for regular communication with packer partners and tuned-in buying strategies. Without a doubt, CAB partners express demand and eagerness to buy.

“We would love for there to be more Prime beef on the market,” Scott said. “But that’s in the hands of everyone in this room.”

Certified Angus Beef hosted the 18th annual Feeding Quality Forum Aug. 22-23 in Lincoln, Neb. The event was sponsored by AngusLinkSM, Feedlot Magazine, Select Sires, Performance Livestock Analytics, Diamond V, and Drovers. To learn more or view coverage, visit www.feedingqualityforum.com.

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