The beef checkoff has made real investments in new product development, and this has had a positive impact on the value of every beef carcass. Muscle profiling and developing new products are two key things the checkoff is doing to increase value.
Before the profiling research, so many cuts of beef that weren’t high-dollar cuts would end up in grind. You know, it’s not hard to sell a ribeye steak or a T-bone or a tenderloin. But that’s only about 20 percent of the carcass. The challenge is finding ways to create more value in the other 80 percent!
One way the checkoff has been able to do this is through profiling specific muscles, and developing cuts like the Flat Iron steak and petite tender. These cuts are from muscles that are tender and lean, two qualities that the consumer wants.
The other thing the checkoff supports is developing new products. Many consumers need help selecting and preparing beef. Other than popular steak cuts and ground beef, most consumers do not feel confident in selecting cuts for a specific purpose. At the same time, they also want to prepare a real meal with the same speed, ease and results as convenience foods.
So the checkoff, and the Beef Innovation Group (BIG) which it supports, started focusing on ways to get beef on the plate for consumers who just do not have the time, planning capacity, cooking knowledge or skills to pull it all together every night.
Some new, ultra-convenient beef products being discussed with retailers which will soon be making their way to grocery stores across the U.S. are:
- Microwavable roasts: Tri-tip roasts and Sirloin Cap roasts make delicious center-of-plate entrees, and BIG has developed special FDA-approved packaging, coupled with specific seasonings and fat trim, to allow microwave preparation of these roasts with less than 20 minutes of cooking time followed by a rest period!
The roasts are packaged in a special plastic bag that allows air to vent while the roast cooks to an appetizing brown exterior and desired level of internal doneness in the microwave. Following cooking, liquid drains to a separate chamber in the lower part of the bag, for transfer to a sauce dish or gravy pan.
- Microwavable ground beef: The packaging for this product is similar to that of the microwavable roasts. The product safely cooks from frozen or fresh in 6 to 9 minutes, and the ground beef can then be crumbled and added to sauces, seasoned for tacos or used in any recipes that call for ground beef.
- Skillet meals: These “weekday steaks and roasts” are packaged with seasonings and easy preparation instructions to provide a beef entrée in less than 20 minutes. Choices include Flat Iron steaks, Sirloin Cap roasts and Denver Steaks.
- Delicatessen beef: Delis are a rapidly growing section within the supermarket, and a popular choice for shoppers wanting to purchase prepared foods for consumption at home. Chicken and ham tend to dominate the meat selections though, and the checkoff is working with supermarket chains to develop beef options for in-store preparation so that deli employees, who typically are not trained chefs, can prepare items such as smoked, sliced beef brisket.
It’s not just the deli area where other proteins have invested resources to develop new products. That’s why the beef checkoff and BIG are working to stay at the forefront and make your beef product more appetizing and more appealing than any other protein. The goal is simple: make beef the center of the meal more often, especially for those time-strapped consumers who have limited cooking skills.
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