Around Memorial Day weekend, new meat labels were released for pork and beef cuts. The names are in place with the hopes of boosting sales by making meat shopping easier for consumers. More than 350 names have been created. The updated labels will be found at grocery stores and will feature three lines including the new name, the description of that cut and the best cooking methods. Sounds good, right? I have some doubts.
Like kabobs being prepped for an Independence Day grill-out, I’ve been marinating on these new names every since they first came out. Part of me thought that perhaps I feared the change. People sometimes struggle with change, so I figured that was my problem.
But the more I study the list, the more I’m convinced that the new names might offer more information for consumers, but they aren’t that advantageous to the beef industry.
Allow me to explain. The beef names that have become part of our “brand,” such as ribeye and porterhouse, now can be applied to pork cuts as well. So, if a consumer walks up to the butcher at the meat case and says, “I would like a ribeye.” The meat man might reply, “Beef or pork?”
Call me crazy, but the beef industry has worked hard to create the love affair that Americans have with a big, juicy ribeye. Now, thanks to these new names, that love also will be applied to pork cuts. My apologies to my hog-producer friends. You’ve got delicious bacon and baby-back ribs, but your ribeye does not equal my ribeye.
Think this is a stretch? Consider this Facebook post on the “Pork, Be Inspired,” page.
“It’s already the best value for your dollar at the meat case, so make pork the star of your plate! Porterhouse Pork Chops are 60% less expensive than Porterhouse Beef Steaks.”
Sure, there’s truth to this statement. Pork does have the budget-friendly edge right now if you’re comparing similar cuts, but I find it ridiculous that the pork chop is now a porterhouse. What happens when a consumer grills a porterhouse pork chop, and overcooks it, so it becomes a dry, white slab of meat? Does that consumer then lump all porterhouses together and decide he or she doesn’t like the cut?
Not only do we now have to worry about folks having a positive beef-eating experience every time, but now we have to worry about residual effects from someone eating a pork ribeye or porterhouse and not liking what they’ve bought!
Perhaps I’m getting a little worked up over nothing. My sincere hope is that the consumer is now able to make more educated decisions at the meat case. Frankly, I think we did the pork industry a big favor by extending our trusted, recognizable beef brand to pork cuts. But I digress. I will still enjoy pork chops this summer, but don’t expect me to call it a ribeye.
What do you think about the new names? Is it good, bad or a wash for the beef industry? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.