WASHINGTON – Beef took center stage during the NBC 4 Health & Fitness Expo that was recently held in Washington, D.C. The expo was billed as the nation’s largest free health event and attracted crowds exceeding 85,000, according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Beef’s role at this year’s show included a tradeshow exhibit, lean beef cooking stage demonstrations, an ad in 85,000 program books and four weeks of Web ads on nbcwashington.com. A checkoff-funded sponsorship by the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative in Bedford, Penn., kicked off with Patty Melt, a burger costume, making a grand entrance by walking the opening lap at the expo track.

The South Dakota Beef Industry Council joined this year’s N.E.B.P.I.

"We believe strongly in the mission of the N.E.B.P.I. and anything in D.C. is extra-special because of the dense population and international diplomats," says Roger Gerdes, South Dakota Beef Industry Council board member and beef producer from Miller, S.D. "By investing checkoff dollars, we were able to reach a large quantity of consumers in a short amount of time. And they were the right consumers who asked quality questions even though we didn’t have gimmicks at the booth. These consumers are the end-buyers of our product today and through education, we can keep them as consumers for years to come."

Producer dollars were extended thanks to the checkoff partnering with Balducci’s, a 10-unit retailer that routinely joins forces with the beef checkoff. Balducci’s launched a "New Year, New You" promotion with the beef checkoff on Jan. 12. During the Expo, Balducci’s chefs demonstrated two recipes from the "New Year, New You" recipe planner on the "Healthy Cooking 4 U" stage.

Chefs served samples to more than 300 people during the two days, while Kara Behlke, registered dietician with the New York Beef Industry Council, joined the chefs on-stage to discuss proteins role in weight loss. Balducci’s also distributed beef coupons to the cooking stage crowd. 

N.C.B.A. relays the four-week Web ads drove traffic back to leanbeefsweepstakes.com, the microsite for the "New Year, New You" beef promotion and during that time, generated more than 1 million positive beef impressions. The promotion began during the presidential inauguration and as a result, more than doubled the impressions from the 2008 Fitness Expo Web ads.

To date, more than 1,000 Balducci’s customers have entered the "New Year, New You" sweepstakes. And, 1,000 copies of the "New Year, New You" recipe planner, 1,200 copies of Confident Cooking with Beef brochures and approximately 500 copies of The Healthy Beef Cookbook were distributed.

Finally, it was relayed that two vegetarian, animal-rights groups were in proximity to the beef booth -- but the beef booth drew in the biggest crowds.

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