NASHVILLE – The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) and the Beef Checkoff Program announced a partnership with Merck Animal Health called Better Beef Sales, an online retail training program to help educate meat-counter employees about current beef production practices.

The initiative is designed to connect consumers and their food, according to NCBA. Consumer decisions consider a variety of factors before making a purchase: how animals were raised, sustainability, animal welfare and other practices used by cattle-farm families and ranchers. Retail meat counter employees don't always have the answers to questions customers may have regarding these issues. The Better Beef Sales program is intended to inform meat counter employees about beef production.

Better Beef Sales education program consists of six web-based training modules. Topics covered in the videos include: types and quality of beef offered today; sustainability of today’s beef; animal welfare practices; beef-improvement technologies; and ways retailers can add value to the meat case.

“As cattle numbers continue to decrease and retail beef supplies become tighter, it’s going to take more effort to keep beef center of the plate,” said Carrie Thomas, account manager for food chain affairs for Merck Animal Health. “We want to make sure retail employees and consumers understand how their beef is produced and how these wholesome, quality products end up on our dinner tables.”

Merck Animal Health conducted a series of consumer panels and found that consumers identify the staff behind the counter as experts. Thomas said the need for training was quickly confirmed during retailer discussions.

“We conducted four panels in two cities. One of the key take away messages from those meetings was consumers still identify the person in the “white coat” behind the meat counter — the ‘butcher’ — as the beef expert,” Thomas said. “And, we want them to be beef experts. To do that, we need to arm them with information about today’s beef supply and how it’s produced.”

To learn more about the Better Beef Sales retail education program, visit