I had a very interesting and enlightening phone conversation earlier this week with a colleague who reports for Supermarket News, the long-standing go-to publication for grocery store executives around the country. The corporation that owns BEEF also owns Supermarket News and my colleague was curious about ag’s take on our new Ag Secretary, Sonny Perdue.
His questions regarding Secretary Perdue centered around USDA’s proposed 20% budget cut in President Trumps budget proposal, as well as what might happen with ag exports. I told him that while ag is encouraged by Perdue’s confirmation, nobody in agriculture really knows about the future of ag exports. However, with Perdue’s background in agribusiness, there is now a champion for international trade in Trump’s cabinet.
From a grocer’s perspective, there is a lot of concern about how Perdue will handle budget cuts, particularly if SNAP, WIC and other feeding programs get whacked. That will cut into retailers’ cash flow and my colleague told me that grocery stores are struggling mightily at the moment. If a store can’t increase traffic and sales year over year, it makes a tough time even tougher.
Tough times getting tougher. That’s something beef producers understand all too well.
Once we finished talking about our new Ag Secretary, the conversation turned to the beef supply and what retailers might expect in that regard. In a classic good news-bad news situation, the cyclical increase in cattle numbers that we see happening means lower prices across the board for beef producers.
However, the increased beef supply for retailers, particularly coming off the cyclical low in cattle numbers we saw in 2014 and 2015, mean more product for retailers to sell. And beef is a major driver in grocery store traffic—that’s why the meat case is at the back of the store.
It was a very enlightening conversation for both of us—I got a glimpse at the challenges facing the folks who sell our product to consumers and he got a glimpse into the challenges you face in producing that product. We agreed that we need to talk more often.
So here’s your opportunity—what would you like the folks who sell your product to know about what you do to produce safe, wholesome beef? What would you like to know about the challenges that retailers face in selling beef? Leave your thoughts in the comment section and I’ll pass them along to the folks at Supermarket News. Let’s get the conversation going.