CENTENNIAL, COLO. – The beef checkoff’s food and nutrition communications team, using conclusions drawn from checkoff-funded market research, is gearing up to capitalize on the month of February, which features many familiar holidays and special occasions during a month when sales of middle meats are traditionally slower. As a result, the beef checkoff is launching its “I Heart Beef” campaign.

Specifically designed to help strengthen interest in beef middle meats, cuts that have a proven return on investment for beef producers, the program is designed to remind consumers of their passion for steaks like the T-bone and tenderloin. February is also Heart Health Month.

“A growing body of evidence shows lean beef, trimmed of visible fat, can be a part of a low saturated fat diet that does not increase heart disease risk factors,” said Dave Fugate, cow/calf producer from Greenback, Tenn., and chair of the Joint Public Relations Subcommittee. “The checkoff’s I Heart Beef campaign is strategically positioned during a time when consumers tend to focus on dieting, and we’re trying to make them aware of the heart-health benefits of lean beef; meanwhile, aiming to increase sales of middle meats, which aids the ultimate goal of the checkoff – increase beef demand.”

The consumer survey found:

• For Valentine’s Day, beef is the preferred choice of Americans (62%) because nothing says love like a great steak dinner.
• Americans associate steak as a “best match” for love (44%), romance (42%) and passion (41%)—more so than other high-end proteins.
• When it’s time to share that Valentine’s Day meal, beef wins. A ribeye (35%) or T-bone steak (32%) are chosen as the best meal to share with a significant other.
• Americans most often associate beef with celebrations (50%), compared to chicken (18%), pork (17%) or fish (15%).
• Sixty-two percent of Americans say they choose to prepare beef if they are looking for gratitude or appreciation from their dinner partner.
• Fifty-three percent of Americans identify filet mignon as the food most associated with candlelight romance and 50% of Americans think filet mignon is the best way to say “I love you.”

Numerous media outreach components, online and electronic communications and communications and a recipe contest geared toward registered dietitians to encourage them to share their love for lean beef, will be included in the campaign. As an off-shoot of the national efforts, the campaign can then be tailored by state beef councils.

“This campaign will kick off in February, but the benefit to beef producers is its usefulness can be extended to other holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day when consumers are celebrating the holiday with corned beef and cabbage,” Mr. Fugate said.