How the beef marketing structure is failing some producers

All this marketing has not happened without substantial premiums being paid for this meat; on average, CAB choice cuts are worth $15 to $20 per cwt more than regular choice cuts, which equates to about $130 more per head in premiums. And with these prices, who wouldn’t want to raise black-skinned cattle!

Although many people who have bitten into a corned steak may have heard of certified Angus beef, it can be interesting to understand the qualification of its cachet.

First, all beef to be considered for the mark must be Best Choice, or Prime Beef, and then must again pass 10 specifications for marbling, size, and uniformity. For marbling and maturity, the meat should: 1) be modest or superior in marbling to ensure consumer satisfaction, 2) have a medium to fine marbling texture, which ensures consistent flavor, and 3) can only come from killed cattle less than 30 months old. age and only lean A-maturity for superior color, texture and tenderness.

For consistent sizing, 4) the meat should have a rib eye area of ​​10-16 square inches, 5) hang a hot carcass weight of 1,050 pounds or less, and 6) have a fat thickness of 1 inch or less.

For quality appearance and tenderness, 7) the meat must be superior in muscle, which excludes lightly muscled cattle, 8) be virtually free of capillary breakage, which ensures visually appealing steaks, 9) cannot be a dark knife and 10) cannot have a neck bump that exceeds 2 inches.

No one would argue that these specs aren’t worthy of praise for the genetics chosen and the way the animal was bred. Therefore, the bonuses are undeniably deserved.

But what about the cattle that jump through all those hoops, are equal in product quality, but don’t get the CAB stamp and miss the $15-$20 a cwt premiums?

Ken Betschart, a marketing representative for Consolidated Beed Producers, said it best. “The real boost of this unspoken marketing strategy is that the top two-thirds of the choice cuts are choice, regardless of the color of the animal. It’s like every other cattle that jumps through those hoops and meets industry standards of excellence is treated like the red-headed son-in-law of the bunch, whether he’s red, white, or whatever. color than black-skinned cattle,” he said. “There is a product that is just as consumable, just as good as CAB, but that product doesn’t have the same marketing structure behind it. We considered CAB to be a ‘better’ product, but it’s not a choice cut of choice, no matter how you look at it?”

You can’t blame the creators of CAB for being the marketing masterminds that they are, but you can look at other breed associations and wonder why they haven’t upped their own game to help their producers do better. market their livestock.

“My line of work always boils down to the producer. I want to help them market their livestock to the best of my ability so that more of the market dollar can come back to them. I have no problem with what CAB has done, I would love for other groups to follow their example so that more growers can receive similar bonuses for the trusted product they breed,” Betschart explained.

Breed associations are quick to ask their members to renew their dues, and even though it takes a big dollar to fund such groups, at some point we have to stop and ask ourselves if the dollars spent are helping producers to generate more income. Because in a cycle where only one or two years are comparable to a feast, producers need all the help they can get to get through the famine years.

ShayLe Stewart can be reached at ShayLe.Stewart@dtn.com

Ida M. Morgan