Beef Briefs: September 2010
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Look for Beef Briefs to be delivered the first of each month – your snapshot of beef checkoff news affecting the dairy and beef industries. Editor’s note: please feel free to use these news items as space allows in your publication or online content. If you would like to expand on a certain topic, please e-mail Melissa Slagle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In case you missed it…
Is There A Link Between Red Meat & Heart Disease?
The Harvard School of Public Health is publishing a study stating that women who reduced their consumption of red meat reduced their risk of heart disease. But a checkoff researcher notes that the new research "has nothing that changes the fact beef is an important part of a healthy diet" and further points out that the same journal published another study by a Harvard research group recently that found "no association between red meat and heart disease or diabetes or stroke."
Checkoff Research Helps Target Marketing Efforts
The beef industry can better reach consumers with strong messaging around lean attributes and easy ways to prepare it, according to checkoff research presented at the National Meat Association’s summer conference in Bellevue, Wash.
“Consumers have a love/hate relationship with our product,” said Washington State Beef Commission Executive Director Patti Brumbach, noting that consumers love the taste but are concerns about saturated fat and sustainability. She said that 81 percent of consumers surveyed said they knew little to nothing about the beef industry. The industry must be careful not to let other interests fill in that information void, she warned.
For the complete story, visit Five Ways To Market Beef.
MBA Is Golden
The checkoff-funded Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA) program was a first place winner in the “Agricultural Image” campaigns category of the Golden ARC Awards, beating out the “Farmers Feed Us” campaign and “Farm to Market Public Relations” campaign. Congratulations to everyone who had a hand in conceptualizing, developing, launching and administering the MBA program, and, to those who have participated and graduated from the program!
The Golden ARC Awards are the 30-year-old awards program of the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC), the professional development organization for ag PR pros. ARC and the Golden ARC awards program were “absorbed” by NAMA in the 1990s but recently separated and re-launched as a stand-alone organization and awards program.
Flavor Development Seminars Held in Barbados, St. Lucia
The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program, recently teamed with the U.S. Dairy Export Council to conduct "Taste of America" seminars featuring the concept of pairing U.S. beef with cheeses and other complementary foods under the "umami" umbrella of flavor development. The first two seminars were held in Barbados at the home of the U.S. ambassador to the region. A mini-trade show featuring U.S. products was held in conjunction with these seminars.
The final seminar was held in St. Lucia, just to the northwest of Barbados, in conjunction with Crown Foods and Barbay/St. Lucia Distillers. Attendance was outstanding at all of the seminars, as they attracted standing-room-only audiences of Caribbean chefs and other foodservice professionals.
Umami is commonly referred to as "the fifth taste" in reference to the four traditional primary tastes of sweet, sour, salt and bitter. This flavor concept is a critical element in the creation of many delicious dishes featuring beef, which is considered an umami-rich protein.
The Caribbean has been an impressive growth market for U.S. beef in 2010. Through May, beef exports (including variety meat) totaled 10,581 metric tons (23.3 million pounds) valued at just under $42 million - a 30 percent increase over last year's pace.
For more about checkoff-funded foreign marketing efforts, click here.
Checkoff Aims To Help Producers Safeguard Their Industry
One of the weapons used when attacking the beef industry is the term “factory farming,” used to paint a picture of animal suffering, excessive antibiotic and hormone use, food safety concerns and environmental damage. A July 2010 consumer tracking study, funded by the beef checkoff, found that the percentage of consumers who are familiar with the term “factory farming” increased from 49 percent to 64 percent in the last two years, though the number of consumers who associate cattle with factory farming has remained fairly stable since 2008.
The study also found that more than half of consumers believe the beef they buy at the supermarket is from animals raised in factory farms. Of concern, more than half of these consumers worry about the safety of the beef they buy.
The checkoff’s issues management team continues to reinforce the need for producers to share their story with fellow producers, the media and consumers. The industry seems to be operating based on bad news, misperceptions, misinformation and fear of the unknown, which creates consumer guilt over buying beef. According to past checkoff studies, the most compelling animal welfare support statement to combat those “factory farming” accusations is, “doing the right thing for and by animals” which can help alleviate a tremendous guilt burden.
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.