New beef marketing program focuses on smaller cuts

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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DENVER – A new retail beef marketing program that insiders claim has the potential to significantly increase US beef sales is being supported by state beef councils and the national Beef Checkoff Program. Called Beef Alternative Marketing (BAM), this checkoff-funded program has identified new cutting techniques and marketing strategies for securing beef purchases from shoppers who previously looked elsewhere for proteins.

BAM creates smaller filets and roasts out of beef ribeyes, top loins and top sirloins. The new cuts are thicker than many being sold by retailers, which have been sliced thinner because of larger beef carcass sizes and a retail desire to control package weights. By increasing cut thickness, final product quality is protected. Smaller portions give consumers the sizes and nutritional profiles they want.

Many US retailers are embracing the program because it capitalizes on the popularity and profitability of middle meats. BAM includes a complete cutting and marketing program, including retailer training materials, point-of-sale materials, recipes, cooking instructions, charts, photos and instructional cutting posters.

BAM allows retailers to offer a product that has a new nutritional selling point, is sized to increase sales and retains the cooking quality of larger steaks, said Jim Henger, executive director of channel marketing for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a checkoff contractor. Focus groups have also shown consumers not only like the new shapes and thicknesses of the cuts, they are not concerned about higher per-pound costs because there is a lower price per package.

Research shows new sales of BAM cuts take nothing away from the sales of larger beef items because many consumers who might have shied away from larger cuts.

Producers who sit on state beef council boards see the value of this program and are assisting in its introduction. The South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) helped fund a nutrient analysis of BAM cuts that demonstrated seven of the eight BAM cuts meet government guidelines for lean, with less fat and waste thanks to extra trimming. Consumers, in turn, perceive a greater value from the product’s leaner fat profile.

The research will be used by USDA to update its National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, which is the gold standard of databases for nutrient composition. The National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference is used by researchers and dietitians around the world.

The SDBIC has also helped fund nutrient analysis on Value Cuts identified through the Beef Checkoff Program, such as the Flat Iron Steak and the Petite Tender Steak.

The Oklahoma Beef Council assisted in determining its potential profitability for retailers and cattlemen and women who fund the program. One test of the program at the Homeland Grocery chain in Oklahoma showed beef sales growth of nearly $34,000 during a 14-week trial, with some stores selling as many as 863 lbs. of BAM products.

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