Industry At A Glance: A-Stamp Qualification Rate

Cattle that qualify for USDA’s A-stamp are more likely to produce a higher-value carcass.

Nevil Speer

June 5, 2013

2 Min Read
Industry At A Glance: A-Stamp Qualification Rate

Several weeks ago, BEEF’s Industry-At-A-Glance featured some recent research regarding the use of camera-based technology to assess marbling score. That feature also included some discussion about the importance of USDA Quality Grade (QG) and its inherent relationship to consumer satisfaction.

That same research, which was commissioned by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, also reveals some interesting findings related to QG and the slaughter mix. Most notably, higher degrees of marbling are positively associated with USDA’s A-stamp qualification rate (USDA’s designation for cattle that are predominantly black in color). Specifically, the A-stamp rate for Traces, Slight, Small, Modest, Moderate, Slightly Abundant and Moderately Abundant marbling scores are 49, 55, 66, 71, 81, 84 and 92%, respectively. 

Stated another way, as marbling score (and corresponding QG) improves, there’s a greater probability the product is sourced from cattle that possess an A-stamp. Alternatively, cattle that qualify for the A-stamp are more likely to produce a higher-value carcass.

a-stamp beef carcass quality

Seemingly, that reality has also pervaded the perception among various sectors when asked about the definition and/or description of “genetics.”The most cited response among retailers, foodservice, packers and feeders in the National Beef Quality Audit, for instance, was “primarily black-hided.”

How do you perceive these findings and various USDA-certified programs upon consumer perceptions? What influence will that have upon beef marketing in the future? Will it play a bigger role in genetic and management decisions going forward, or do you think such demand will plateau because of market saturation? Leave your thoughts below. 


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About the Author(s)

Nevil Speer

Nevil Speer serves as an industry consultant and is based in Bowling Green, KY.

Nevil Speer has extensive experience and involvement with the livestock and food industry including various service and consultation projects spanning such issues as market competition, business and economic implications of agroterrorism, animal identification, assessment of price risk and market volatility on the producer segment, and usage of antibiotics in animal agriculture.
Dr. Speer writes about many aspects regarding agriculture and the food industry with regular contribution to BEEF and Feedstuffs.  He’s also written several influential industry white papers dealing with issues such as changing business dynamics in the beef complex, producer decision-making, and country-of-origin labeling.
He serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Institute for Animal Agriculture.
Dr. Speer holds both a PhD in Animal Science and a Master’s degree in Business Administration.

Contact him at [email protected].

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