Checkoff-funded Consumer Veal Index Benchmarked in 2009
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In July 2009, new questions were added to the existing checkoff-funded Consumer Beef Index to specifically track additional attitudes and perceptions regarding veal. The tool provides meaningful, evaluative consumer-focused data that helps the checkoff assess the impact of the beef industry’s efforts to build demand.
The Index measures a representative sample of U.S. consumers in an effort to summarize how veal is being incorporated into meals, the kinds of proteins chosen by consumers and how that evolves over time, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of veal.
“The study reveals that veal usage is actually increasing with nearly one in three consumers eating veal at least occasionally, up five percent from a year ago,” says John Lundeen, executive director of market research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. “We politely refer to veal eaters as ‘protein rotators’ – they eat a greater variety of meats and have a broader cooking skill set than non-users.”
The study also shows that veal usage is much more concentrated in restaurants than other meats, in part because of a lack of familiarity and/or comfort with preparing it at home.
“Veal is great tasting, a good source of protein, always tender and just plain made for that special occasion,” says Tom Houlton, veal industry veteran and member of the Veal Go-To-Market Strategy team. “We want consumers to understand that a special occasion doesn’t have to be a birthday or anniversary – it can be a Monday night, simply to celebrate a Monday night. Any night can be special with veal.”
Veal is viewed as a protein choice for a “change of pace,” but in the absence of veal, the study concludes that consumers will opt for beef as a substitute. All of these conclusions present opportunities for the beef checkoff-funded veal team to reassess marketing strategies and product positioning in hopes of increasing demand and usage of veal.
The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.