Autumn Velez| March 5, 2020
More than 1,500 attendees, including retailers, processors and packers attending the 2020 Annual Meat Conference in Nashville, TN learned that beef is the most valuable protein in terms of salesi and how the beef industry’s Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program is helping to improve consumer perceptions about how high-quality beef is raised in the U.S.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff and manager of the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand had a major presence at the event, including a packed booth in the tradeshow, which provided an in-depth look at the voluntary, Beef Checkoff funded program that ensures U.S. beef is produced under stringent animal care standards. The BQA program was introduced to consumers in the fall of 2019 with a campaign designed to educate the general public about how beef in the U.S. is responsibly raised and the farmers and ranchers committed to producing safe, high-quality beef. Retailers were excited to learn that today, thanks to the commitment of cattle farmers and ranchers, more than 85 percent of beef comes from BQA certified farmers and ranchers.
“Consumers want to know how their food is raised and market research shows that when consumers learn about BQA, their confidence in beef increases,” said Bridget Wasser, executive director, meat science & supply chain outreach at NCBA. “By relaying that information to retailers, we can help educate and support them in achieving their bottom line and driving beef sales.”
To gain better perspective on BQA and the farmers and ranchers behind it, attendees had the opportunity to talk to cattle ranchers Buck Weirbein and Kim Brackett. Brackett, an Idaho-based cattle rancher and BQA advisory committee chair was at the booth to talk about how she focuses on animal care, grazing practices, cattle genetics, wildlife habitat and soil health. The booth experience was designed to help better equip retailers to educate their customers and answer questions about how beef is safely and humanely raised and was part of the overall campaign to bring BQA to life for consumers, influencers, supply chain operators, and the media.
“It was eye opening to attend this event and see this large group of processors, distributors and retailers experiencing many of the same challenges, opportunities and issues that beef producers face day in and day out.” said Buck Weirbein, federation division chair at NCBA. “We truly are on the same team and these folks are just as passionate about our product as we are. I have renewed outlook and I look forward to sharing what I experienced at this conference with my board and fellow producers.”
In addition to getting an extensive look at BQA, attendees were presented with the latest research from a test-pilot program regarding labels. This research tested the effectiveness of featuring the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. logo and QR codes on non-branded packages of beef. Findings from this research included:
To further drive home the importance of educating and building confidence in consumers, attendees also got to see the results from market research highlighting the value beef adds to a shopping cart, confirming beef’s position as the most valuable protein. These highlights included:
“Attending the Annual Meat Conference was extremely valuable for our team as we work to educate and support retailers,” said Wasser. “We look forward to continuing to build these relationships and expanding the ways the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand can enhance the meat case experience and in turn drive beef sales.”
About the Beef Checkoff
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 may 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.
About NCBA, a Contractor to the Beef Checkoff
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. The Beef Checkoff Program is administered by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, with oversight provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.