In place of the yield grade(YG) requirement, Certified Angus Beef (CAB) is putting a carcass weight limit of 1,000 lbs and a ribeye area (REA) range of 10"-16". CAB has not announced the new fat thickness limit as of yet, but this is expected to be announce in fairly short order.
This change is expected to narrow up the ranges of CAB product ever so slightly. CAB's press release estimated that 6% of the product that currently qualifies for CAB would no longer qualify, but they also will pick up product that previously would have failed to make the YG 3 cutoff.
This change will likely create a whole lot of discussion for people both setting priorities for their breeding programs. It is a first step toward what our customers have been saying for quite some time that consistency and uniformity may be a priority over such things as cutability and quality grade. Cynics will point out that a 1,000 lb carcass weight is not exactly small nor is a 10"-16" REA range. And, once the fat thickness spec is announced the new spec will embrace hot carcass weight, REA and fat thickness which were the same drivers in the YG system. This might be perceived as aimed more at increasing the percent acceptance of CAB than it is anything else.
The new specifications should lop off the extremely small- or overly large-REA cattle that have qualified and should make the product more consistent from a size standpoint, if perhaps a little more variable from a cutability standpoint.
The magnitude of the change initially may be rather small, but it is a significant step when the largest branded beef program rejects the established YG system. And, while not saying that consistency or uniformity is more important than cutability the reality is that excess fat is a cost to the system. But, something that's largely removed before it reaches the consumer. The consistency issue is something that the consumer, retailer, restaurateur, and wholesaler are dealing with every day.
-- Troy Marshall