Prime and Choice achieve new landmark

For much of the past 25 years, the industry has struggled to surpass a rate of 60% of carcasses grading Prime or Choice. That’s changed. Here’s a look at the impressive grading numbers.

Nevil Speer

April 6, 2017

2 Min Read
Prime and Choice achieve new landmark

Two years ago, this column featured the industry’s track record around quality grades. That discussion was titled, “Carcasses grading prime & choice hit a record high.”

The discussion noted that, “…the percentage of the fed steer/heifer slaughter achieving the Choice grade has surpassed 70%. Meanwhile, the percentage of cattle grading Prime is consistently running near 5%. In combination, the grading mix of the fed steer and heifer population has eclipsed 75% for the first time in recent history.”

At the time, that seemed a significant accomplishment. The industry hadn’t achieved that type of performance since the early 70s. Meanwhile, the National Beef Quality Audits marked combined percentages at 55, 49, 51, 55 and 61 in ’91, ’95, ’00, ’05 and ’11, respectively. In other words, during the past 25 years, the industry has struggled to surpass a rate of 60% of carcasses grading Prime or Choice.

However, during the past several years, the industry has made tremendous progress. To that end, the industry has easily surpassed the 75% threshold established back in 2015 and now achieved a new landmark: 80% of carcasses achieving the Choice or Prime designation in January. But better yet, in mid-March, nearly 8% of carcasses graded Prime, while 74% graded Choice for a combined 82% mark.

Related:5 tips for better beef quality

That achievement is the result of a distinct commitment to incentivize the industry in delivering more high-quality cattle. That’s resulted in strategic changes with respect to both genetics and management systems. And all of that is beginning to pay real dividends for the industry. Undoubtedly, this has played an important role with respect to beef demand in recent years. 


How do you perceive this trend with respect to the industry? Will this trend continue to move higher in the coming years? What changes have you made in recent years that are potentially contributing to this favorable trend? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Nevil Speer is based in Bowling Green, Ky., and serves as vice president of U.S. operations for AgriClear, Inc. – a wholly-owned subsidiary of TMX Group Limited. The views and opinions of the author expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the TMX Group Limited and Natural Gas Exchange Inc.

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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