PHOENIX – Certified Angus Beef (CAB) posted a near-record year of pounds sold for the brand in 2022. John Stika, CAB president, clearly was excited to deliver the news in person to the audience of retailers, foodservice operators and producers convened in the capital city of the Grand Canyon State for the 2022 Annual Conference, held Sept. 28-30.

Certified Angus Beef sales this year will exceed 1,234,000,000 lbs sold, marking a 1.6% increase, or almost 20 million lbs over the prior year and makes it the second-best sales year in the history of the brand — only 15 million lbs off the CAB brand’s record set in 2019.

March 2022 ranks as the all-time highest sales month in the history of the CAB brand with a new record of 113 ½-million lbs.

“This last year, our licensed packers certified about 5,718,000 carcasses, plus or minus, into the brand, you know, slightly down where we were a year ago, but still easily the second-largest supply that we’ve ever had in our brand's history,” Stika added. “And the challenge with supply, as many of you on the end-user side can appreciate, is that supply is never ideally distributed over the course of the year as you would like it to be.”

Foodservice, retail rebound

Stika noted that cattle did not grade as well through the latter part of the year, and carcasses didn’t certify at the rate that they did a year ago, creating added pressure and tightness in supply of Certified Angus Beef and Certified Angus Beef Prime during the last six to eight months of the fiscal year. Still, suppliers to the brand had additional reasons to celebrate the CAB’s performance.

“Our sales mix returned to something more typical across foodservice, retail and international to what we would’ve seen prior to COVID,” Stika said. “This past year, our sales growth was no doubt driven by foodservice building off their 13.5% increase for last year. Our foodservice partners this year grew by another 11.2%, or roughly 41 million lbs over the last 12 months, selling 406 million lbs of Certified Angus Beef and securing the second-best sales year for foodservice in the history of the brand.”

In the retail segment, sales of CAB declined compared to two consecutive years of 600 million lbs sold. Stika attributed the result to changes in consumer shopping patterns and purchase behaviors during COVID. However, Stika said, retail sales remain strong at 551 million lbs sold last year.

Stika said, “… In all honesty, we’re optimistic about what lies ahead, because as we look at our top 25 volume retailers, as we look at their consolidated sales today, what we begin to see is that we’re running 3% over the prior year, starting back in July.”

Like the brand’s results in foodservice, exports of CAB products continue to recover and grow in more than 50 different countries. Sales of Certified Angus Beef outside of the United States grew by 1.7% to reach 176 million lbs last year, and CAB was “excited to see significant growth in three of our top five international markets with Canada, Mexico and Taiwan” experiencing growth of more than 24%, Stika said.

“We were also excited to see the Middle East and Central America have their best years ever with the brand, and it's worth noting that both the Dominican Republic and Qatar had their best years ever and grew respectively by more than 50 and 70%,” he added.

Dedicated support from both retail and restaurant partners drove Certified Angus Beef grind sales, which increased by more than 9% and set a record just shy of 260 million lbs.

Sales of Certified Angus Beef Prime, supplies of which were impacted by cattle not grading quite as well in the latter part the year, finished slightly down roughly 6.8% coming off record sales a year ago.

Strong showing for value-add beef

CAB value-added business had its best year ever, exceeding 40 million lbs for the first time in the brand’s history, Stika told the audience, as processors continued to step up and meet demand. Growth occurred across 15 of 23 categories of value-added products led by fully cooked briskets. Sales of beef bacon in the Middle East and the United States provided a nice bump to results, he added.

Stika acknowledged that the robust performance by the CAB brand occurred while foodservice operators and retailers were facing high, and in many cases, record-high prices on many Certified Angus Beef items coming from all the various parts of the carcass. But despite price, Certified Angus Beef sales managed to grow each year except for 2020.

“This does not, by any means suggest that price is not important,” Stika said. “Rather, what it suggests – and it’s a good reminder – that consumers do not buy Certified Angus Beef on price alone.

“Rather, what history has continued to teach us time and time again, is that purchasing decision is based on the relationship between price and value and value in the eyes of the consumer continues to be strongly tethered to quality and taste – things that the Certified Angus Beef brand has continued to set the standard for.”