CENTENNIAL, CO. — In order to help protect beef demand in the meat case and on restaurant menus, an aggressive beef checkoff market-response plan is in place, according to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board.

"We understand consumers are cutting back and saving more, but that doesn’t mean they have to give up the beef experience," said Don Stewart, importer from Chicago, Ill., member of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and vice chair of the Global Marketing Group. "Our checkoff dollars are being wisely invested in programs such as these to help build beef demand and thus help increase producer profitability in an otherwise tough economy."

Here are some of the new checkoff-funded programs and promotions being executed this year to help move more middle meats (cuts from the rib, loin or sirloin, such as ribeye, t-bone and tenderloin):

  • Beef Alternative Merchandising — This program shows supermarket retailers new merchandising methods for the top loin, ribeye and top sirloin. It addresses price sensitivities and provides consumers with appealing portion sizes, leaner-looking and more-affordable cuts of steaks.
  • Retail Pricing Matrix — This program helps retailers identify the unique opportunity that exists with promoting middle meats. This will be especially helpful given that wholesale prices are the lowest they’ve been in 10 years, according to the Beef Board. The matrix details the relationship between yielded cost, retail price and gross margin. The matrix also shows beef middle meats can be featured at competitive retail prices while still providing the retailer with a reasonable gross profit.
  • Slice and Save — This program offers great savings to people who buy beef in subprimal form and then choose to cut and wrap it themselves.
  • Bargain Beef Bundles — This is a new twist on the concept of buying beef by the side or quarter that shows retailers how they can offer consumers bargain pricing when they buy beef in bulk. Home freezers are the top-selling appliances right now. As a result, the checkoff is providing retailers and consumers ways they can save by buying beef in bulk and storing it in their freezers.
  • Promotions and Media — More than 90% of consumers are using coupons to make food purchases. As a result, the checkoff will be distributing more than 60 million coupons for beef — five times more than last year.

"We’ve seen this change in consumer purchasing patterns affect retail channels with dollar sales for beef increasing dramatically (14.3%) in November 2008," Mr. Stewart said. "While the casual-dining business may be suffering, we see opportunity in retail because more consumers are buying in the store and cooking at home. Our advertising, foodservice and consumer public-relations teams are also working to leverage the trend toward more cooking at home and help protect beef demand."

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