KANSAS CITY, MO. – Adding additional layers of quality is part of the mission of Certified Piedmontese beef from Lincoln, Neb.-based Great Plains Beef, which began selling the products about a decade ago. The specialty breed, which has roots dating back to the 1600s in the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy, was introduced into the United States about 40 years ago. And, the meat from the growing cattle herd has garnered a reputation for genetic transparency and eating quality that is more often associated with more heavily marbled US breeds, like Angus and Wagyu. Piedmontese cattle are now raised by beef producers across the Midwest who are required to follow strict production guidelines from farm to fork, which prohibits using growth-promoting hormones or antibiotics and requires environmental sustainability and humane animal handling practices. The company offers customers products from cattle raised on vegetarian, grain-based diets and more recently, a line of grass-fed beef. Production practice compliance is verified using DNA testing and detailed documentation. What started with a single bull and four cows in North America has grown to become a sought-after premium beef product sold at US retail operations and to foodservice customers.
For this week’s MEAT+POULTRY Podcast, Billy Swain, director of business development for Certified Piedmontese, talked about the history of the breed and the growing popularity of what is a leaner product that delivers the rich flavor of marbled grain- or grass-fed beef with lower saturated fat and cholesterol.
“They are the most unique breed of cattle in the world,” Swain said, adding that a distinguishing characteristic of the breed is that it inherently possesses inactive myostatin, which inhibits the production of traditional fat cells that produce marbling in meat from traditional breeds in the United States.
“There is intermuscular fat, but it’s not in huge, heavy deposits,” Swain said.
Especially in the past three years, sales of the products have taken off, growing by about 25% per year. Swain talked about how the company has recently moved its operations to a new facility in Lincoln with more processing capacity and an adjacently located restaurant that features the Great Plains’ beef on the menu.
Swain’s passion for promoting Certified Piedmontese beef is contagious and hearing him talk about the past, present and future of the premium products leaves meat lovers hungry for this special breed of steak.