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Volatility abounds in fed and feeder steer prices

Volatility abounds in fed and feeder steer prices

Volatility has been the enduring theme the past several months. The beef complex has been caught up in a web of big weekly moves of late – mostly in the negative direction. Regardless of the direction, though, volatility can make decision-making very difficult. 

This week’s illustration highlights the magnitude of current volatility in both the fed and feeder market. The graph represents the 13-week moving average of weekly price changes. For many years, weekly market moves largely hovered around $20 per head and $10 per head for the fed and feeder market, respectively. 

That all began to change in early-2014, although, in 2014 most of the change was in the positive direction. However, at the close of 2015, weekly moves amplified to average nearly $60 per head on the fed side and $40 per head for feeder cattle.   

weekly fed cattle swings

Putting that in context, consider a feedyard with capacity of 25,000-30,000 head; weekly turnover would equate to approximately 1,000 head per week. As such, a decision to buy, or not to buy, feeder cattle on any given week could represent a $40,000 swing. And, of course, that gets even bigger on the fed side. 

Meanwhile, just selling a load of feeder cattle one week versus another could represent a difference of $3,000. As such, decision-making around the market carries ever more weight than ever before.  

How do you perceive the current trend? Is this the new normal or simply a blip that will settle down in the year(s) to come? How are you adjusting your marketing decisions around the volatility of 2015? 

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.

 

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Cattle futures: Trading hope or thin air?

Feeder cattle
<p>Feeder cattle on wheat pasture</p>

Whether futures trading began with rice producers in Japan during the 17th century, tulip traders amassed in New York City 100 years later—there are credible assertions for both—or some other time and place, history suggests the elements and mechanics of modern-day futures markets in this country were established by the time of the U.S. Civil War.

Then, as now, the underlying notion of futures markets is to provide commodity buyers and sellers with a way to manage price risk. In the case of agriculture, the need stems from the fact that commodities are mostly harvested in a narrow window, some distance in time and geography way from the ultimate consumer of the commodities or products made with them.

How well the futures market accomplished this mission, and who is allowed to help determine the price, has created virulent discussion since the beginning.

As Steve Fraser explains in his book, Wall Street, a Cultural History, “The explosion in the world market for agricultural products also encouraged well-organized speculation in the prices of their future delivery. Commodity exchanges flooded with real and rumored information about the fate of far-off granaries, and conducted daily auctions of far more agricultural goods than were actually coming off of the farm. By the turn of the century (19th), transactions on the commodity exchanges of New York and Chicago’s famous ‘Pit’ exceeded annual harvests by a factor of seven. Prices fluctuated wildly, often without apparent rhyme or reason. Nebraska wheat farmers certainly couldn’t figure them out—nor, often enough, could the shrewdest initiates into the mysteries of the ‘Pit’, however they might delude themselves to the contrary.”

Anyone trying to use cattle futures to manage price risk the past couple of years, especially Feeder Cattle contracts this past year, understands too well the wide and wild price fluctuations without apparent rhyme or reason.

“There is some concern by industry professionals and analysts that the feeder cattle market trade is far removed from the fundamentals in the market,” says Andrew P. Griffith, agricultural economist at the University of Tennessee, in his market comments last week. “Feeder cattle futures are very thinly traded relative to many of the other futures contracts being traded, which can induce increased volatility and make hedging difficult.

“In other words, there are not a lot of contracts being traded and one or two entities trading large numbers of contracts can shift the price and the shift may not have anything to do with cattle market fundamentals. This is a situation where potential hedgers should remain cautious when utilizing the futures market to hedge the purchase and sale of feeder cattle,” Griffith says.

Moreover, high-frequency electronic trading—also known as algorithmic trading—is being mentioned more frequently as a source for such fundamental disassociation, as well as increased market volatility.

“The effectiveness of cattle futures contracts as a viable risk management tool is being called into question due to the concerns over high-frequency trading. In fact, we continue to hear our members question their use of the cattle contracts because the volatility has made them a tool which is more of a liability than a benefit.”

The above comes from a January letter from Philip Ellis, president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and Ed Greiman, chairman of

NCBA’s Cattle Marketing and International Trade Committee. They sent the letter on behalf of NCBA to Terrence Duffy, executive chairman and president of CME Group.

NCBA hosted a December meeting with producer-members to identify ways to address the growing concern of market volatility stemming from high-frequency trading. It included industry traders, economists, and hedgers.

The letter outlines specific areas of concerns and suggestions NCBA is asking Duffy to address. Included among the concerns are: the need to level the playing field for non-electronic traders by implementing a one-second delay between trade actions; the need for CME to release audit trail data that includes firm-level generic identification, and; the need for CME to more proactively identify and report spoofing.

In simple and incomplete terms, spoofing is the illegal practice of submitting buy or sell orders with the intent of immediately cancelling the order before the transaction can take place in an effort to influence price.

Duffy is scheduled to address NCBA’s Cattle Marketing and International Trade Committee during the annual NCBA convention next week.

In the meantime, public comment remains open regarding new rules proposed by CFTC, aimed at responding to the evolution of automated trading. You can find a fact sheet here.

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Steve Harvey shares 3 reasons he respects farmers

If there was ever an opportunity to engage with consumers, the time is now. Most of us know Steve Harvey as a game show host, radio personality, actor, writer, stand-up comedian, and a family man. Most recently, Harvey gained some unwelcome press when he hosted the Miss Universe competition and accidentally announced the wrong winner of the contest. He was quick to own up to his mistake and showed his true character by apologizing to those he affected by his TV flub.

I gained a lot of respect for Harvey for handling his mistake with grace, and I’m even more impressed with him after watching a video of Harvey sharing what he learned by growing up on a farm. Harvey is spent his childhood summers on his grandfather’s farm in West Virginia, and during an early morning workout, the TV host opened up about his life on the farm and his respect for farmers.

The farm life Harvey describes no longer exists in modern agriculture, but the ethic and stewardship he remembers certainly does. Harvey cites three reasons he respects farmers so much, including: understanding, work ethic, and never giving up despite the obstacles. His statements are simple and profound, and I believe his video is worth a share on social media to get others thinking about where their food comes from and the people who produce that food. Read his quotes below, and take a minute to watch his compelling video. Let me know what you think about it!

  • “I’ve learned if you’re a farmer…a farmer understands better than any other worker in this country…a farmer really understands more than most people will ever achieve in their life. I really respect farmers and their commitment, but I also respect their understanding.
  • “Farmers wake up early in the morning. Before you start your day, you start your day by feeding all of the animals. I never understood that. Why am I feeding slop to these hogs, bales of hay to these cows, food to the hunting dogs, walking the mules and horses to water, feeding these chickens? My grandfather sat me down and he said, “Young man, if we don’t take care of these animals that we are requiring to take care of us, what’s going to happen to us? We depend on the chickens to lay eggs and give us meat. We depend on the hogs to give us meat. We depend on the mules to pull the plows, so we can plant. We depend on the horses to drag all of these wagons. We depend on these hunting dogs to go out in the woods and uncover the animals for us.”
  • “In the end, what I respect about farmers is they understand that everything comes in seasons. There’s a planting season. You got to plant and plant and plant and plant, plow, till, hoe the rows, you got to do all that. Seed it, fertilize it, in order for the crops to grow. Now, here’s what happens some years. Sometimes there’s a drought — there ain’t no rain, ain’t no crops. Sometimes it’s a flood that wipes out all of the crops. But guess what? You still got to do the planting because what you’re banking on is there is just enough rain and just enough sunshine so they can harvest. Even if the crops get washed out, even if the floods come, even if the droughts come, the thing about the farmer is, they do it all over again because they understand that eventually they will be able to harvest. And that’s what I respect about farmers.”

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.

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RiceBran Technologies, KER sign supply agreement

RiceBran Technologies (RBT) announced Dec. 30 that it has entered into a 10-year, exclusive supply and cooperation agreement covering the North American equine market with Kentucky Equine Research (KER), an international equine nutrition, research and consultation company.

Under the terms of the agreement, RBT will be the exclusive supplier of stabilized rice bran endorsed by KER for use as a feed and supplement ingredient in equine products sold in North America.

According to the announcement, RBT will provide manufacturing, distribution, sales and marketing expertise and KER will contribute sales and marketing expertise, technical support and research and development to the partnership.

KER president and founder Dr. Joe Pagan said, "In addition to RBT being the technology leader in rice bran stabilization, their patented processes produce a range of unique rice bran derivatives that we will jointly develop with the aim of producing high-value equine supplements with targeted nutritional applications."

KER is an international equine nutrition, research, and consultation company serving horse owners and the feed industry. KER's goals are to advance the industry's knowledge of equine nutrition and exercise physiology, apply that knowledge to produce healthier, more athletic horses, and support the nutritional care of all horses throughout their lives.

RBT is a human food ingredient and animal nutrition company focused on the procurement, bio-refining and marketing of numerous products derived from rice bran. The company has proprietary and patented intellectual property that allows it to convert rice bran, one of the world's most underutilized food sources, into a number of human food ingredient and animal nutrition products.

The big job is keeping customers happy

Ask salespeople what customers want from them and you’re likely to hear such words as friendly, positive, responsive and problem-solver. Whatever else they may be, these are “the comfort words of sales.” It’s how salespeople picture themselves.

Ask customers what they want in a salesperson and the words they use may be quite different. What they are looking for is integrity, responsiveness, initiative, knowledge and guts.

This suggests that it’s in a salesperson’s best interest to align their performance with customer expectations. It’s not only the way to keep them happy; it’s the best way to keep them as customers. Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Always take ownership of problems and complaints. Passing off the blame to someone else always backfires. It sends the message to others that you’re not a stand up person, someone they can count on.
  2. Never use phony-phrases — like “I’m going to be in your area,” “We have a lot to offer your company,” “I know you’re busy,” or the other clichés. They’re a turn off and peg you as a second-rate salesperson.
  3. Always respond to your messages. Whether email, voice mail, text or a letter, respond to it. Think how you feel when your messages are ignored. If you’re not interested or want to be taken off the list, say so. It’s not only polite, but it’s also good networking, a way to influence how others think of you and your company.
  4. Never be late. Being late isn’t funny or fashionable, and rarely excusable, whether it’s late for a meeting, completing a project, meeting deadlines, answering email or anything else. At its core, it’s disrespectful and says the rules don’t apply to you. Being on time, sends the opposite message.
  5. Always say “Thank You.” Those two words send the message that you recognize how others help and assist you in both little and big things, and you don’t take anything for granted.
  6. Never make excuses. Face it. No one believes an excuse. In the least, they create doubt and at worst, they’re perceived as lies. A trail of excuses expresses a lack of commitment, a failure to take responsibility, and announces that you’re someone others can’t count on.  
  7. Always focus messages on the recipient. It may seem obvious, but too many emails, memos, reports, resumes, letters, presentations and other communications are “all about me,” instead of “all about them.” Is it any wonder they’re ignored?
  8. Never play the friend card. Some salespeople make an effort to create a “friend” relationship with customers, one that’s designed to keep competitors away. Ironically, this changes the focus from serving the customer to putting their energy into continuing the relationship, a strategy that’s sure to backfire.
  9. Always be alert for ways to help customers. It’s only natural to think that we’re helping our customers. It makes us feel good to believe we’re doing something worthwhile. But more often than not, our actions tell quite a different story: our major interest is in helping ourselves. Helping customers is quite different.
  10. Never make promises you can’t keep. There’s nothing worse than making a promise and then not keeping it. We all know people who eagerly agree to do something, while others rolls their eyes, knowing they will never follow through. Not keeping your word can be disastrous and it can haunt your career. It’s easy to say, “I’ll take care of that.” But be sure before you promise.
  11. Always prepare. May sound obvious, but marketers and salespeople skip this step and wing it. Whether in person or in writing, they use generalities and relate irrelevant war stories. Nothing specific, just lots of fluff. It shows and everyone knows that they weren’t ready. Kiss off another one and dig out the excuses.
  12. Never fake or exaggerate experience, qualifications or abilities. Be assured that at some point when we least expect it, it will catch up with us. We all have limitations; admitting them says we know our weaknesses as well as our strengths. And that enhances our credibility.
  13. Always satisfy the unhappy customer. Here’s the formula to do it: 1. Take time to understand the problem. Then, repeat it back to the customer. 2. Take ownership. “I’m your advocate.” Don’t pass it off to someone else. 3. Present the solution to the customer: “Is this satisfactory?” If not, seek a better solution. 4. Follow up with the customer to verify satisfaction.
  14. Never let up. The biggest danger in customer care is assuming that everything is OK, particularly with those you never hear from. They’re flying under your radar and before you know it, they’ve flown away. Never assume all is well. Bottom line: expectations are changing so fast, you need to be finding new ways to keep customers happy.
  15. Always be candid. The sales manager wanted to look good so he told his customers that he had gone to his boss to get the price down so he could keep their business. Unfortunately, customers have heard such stories many times. A transparent approach would be more credible: “We know you’re looking at our competitors and we know their programs. Because we want you to stay with us, we’re cutting the initial cost to $xxx.” Customers know when you’re transparent and when you’re blowing smoke.

The challenge of keeping customers happy may be the single most pressing task in business today. Unhappy customers don’t just leave, they’re vengeful, spreading their displeasure in every direction. It takes all the skill, energy, and smarts we can muster to meet that challenge. But it can be done.

John Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and sales strategist-consultant and business writer. He publishes a free monthly eBulletin, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales Ideas.” Contact him at [email protected], 617-774-9759

or johnrgraham.com.

What causes workplace wars?

What sparks workplace conflict? It often boils down to competing personal agendas or values. “One employee may look upon work as a way of life,” says Matt Kramer, a professional mediator based in Orlando, Florida (mattkramer.com). “That person might be working with another employee who does not perform as well and looks upon work as just a job.”

These differences in perspectives can cause the people involved to start acting angrily toward each other, and start blaming each other for poor results. The result is workplace dysfunction.

“Conflict can also arise as a result of change,” says Kramer. “For example, a business might have just installed new software. People find the modified system confusing at the same time their supervisors are demanding results. The resulting pressure causes stress.”

Other factors can come into play, says Kramer. “Perhaps a delivery system breaks down, with the result that the usual business resources are not available to serve customers. Or perhaps the business has to let some people go to right size the work force. That can cause fear which creates stress which leads to workplace conflict.”

Resolving employee conflicts can bolster profits

Do the following workplace scenarios sound familiar?

  • Andy’s work performance has gone south since Margaret was promoted to a position he had long been angling for.
  • Employees refuse to cooperate with Carla because she barks orders in a “bossy” way.
  • Alex hangs back at staff meetings because one of his pet ideas was shot down.

Chances are good that conflicts similar to those have occurred in your own workplace. Their toll on human emotions can’t be denied—and neither can their power to derail the best business organization. “Unaddressed workplace conflicts can be costly because they lead to bad things happening,” says William C. Byham, Executive Chairman of Development Dimensions International (DDI), Pittsburgh (ddiworld.com).

Such as? For starters, troubled employees tend to think about their problems to the exclusion of everything else—including work matters.  “Conflicted workers will often start wasting time in their offices turning over what is bothering them, and still more time bringing up the topic with others,” says Craig E. Runde, director of Mediation Training Institute (mediationworks.com), St Petersburg, FL.

Too, conflicted people tend to communicate less with the coworkers they want to shun. “When people avoid conversation they end up not debating the business issues they need to,” says Runde. “The result is that they make poor quality decisions.” Eventually, conflicted employees may begin to stay home from work or even quit. In the worst case scenarios, personal conflicts can spark lawsuits or even workplace violence. All the above can cause productivity and profits to go south.

Resolving conflict

When workplace tensions boil over, it’s tempting to let things slide and hope things settle down on their own. But while intervening in personal issues may seem intrusive, a “hands off” approach can backfire. “When you don’t deal with personal conflicts they do not magically go away,” says Matt Kramer, a professional mediator based in Orlando, Florida (mattkramer.com). “Instead, they fester and grow.”

Get off the dime by understanding that workplace conflicts are business matters, and that their resolution is part of good management practice. You need to encourage the involved individuals to resolve their personal issues. How to? “Open the doors to communication with your employees,” says Adeel Zaidi, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Bullseye Engagement, Houston (bullseyeengagement.com). “That’s the number one step to resolving workplace conflicts.”

Easier said than done, of course. For guidance on how to deal productively with workplace wars, consider the following responses to our opening scenarios.

Andy: Passed-over for promotion

When you promoted Margaret to a coveted sales slot you had a feeling Andy might be upset. After all, he’d been bucking for the job for some time.

Unfortunately, your instincts were correct: Andy’s job performance has been suffering and he has been acting gloomy and withdrawn. Just this morning you overheard him tell a colleague that Margaret had received the promotion "just because she's a woman."

What should you do? “There are three steps you should take with Andy,” says Byham. “First, clarify the reasons for Margaret’s promotion. Share the details of the selection process and all things that went into the decision.”

It’s important to clarify that the promotion was not gender based and that you don’t want this false rumor to spread, adds Byham.

“Second, ask Andy why he is upset and suggest you both talk about it,” says Byham. “This will give him an opportunity to vent.”

The final step is to get Andy refocused on the future by appealing to his self-interest. “What does Andy need to do to get to his next promotion?” poses Byham. Suggest that Andy make a list of steps he will take to ready himself for the next position.

One final thing: Let Andy know you are on his team and he is not alone: Say something like this: “I will always be available to help you when you need it.”

There is a related question to address here as well: Is it possible to avoid this kind of unpleasant, productivity-sapping surprise for employees looking for promotions? Zaidi suggests there is.

“Managers can avoid these situations through managing expectations and by having frequent check-ins with direct reports to employees,” says Zaidi. This ongoing communication will keep employees like Andy from misunderstanding management intentions.

Also, prior to announcing Margaret’s promotion it would have been good to sit down with Andy and inform him of the decision you were about to make, and the reasons for it. “Your direct reports should always hear your decisions from you instead of spiced up versions from third parties,” says Zaidi.

Carla: Abrasive but effective     

Employees say they don't like working for Carla. She tends to be overly critical, and she barks orders in short, clipped commands that discourage feedback. But because Carla gets things done fast, you like to her to manage projects.

How can you get Carla to improve her communication skills without destroying her ability to meet deadlines? “Have a talk with Carla,” says Runde. “Start by expressing your appreciation for the way she brings projects quickly to fruition. Then indicate you want her to also get the job done in a way that involves the employees more and doesn’t cause them to be upset so much.”

Carla may well say something like this: “You want me to get the job done or do you want me to be sweet and nice?” The truth is you want both, notes Runde. “You want Carla to get things done quickly, and at the same time not alienate colleagues.”

This is another case where an appeal to self-interest can work wonders. “Ordering Carla to change how she communicates with her colleagues will not be accepted in a helpful way,” says Runde. “Instead, show Carla what’s in it for her.”

Explain that encouraging employees to be resourceful is part of the supervisory role, using words like these: “If you get the employees more involved in thinking about solutions to workplace problems, and in developing their own techniques for getting things done, they will start to take more initiative rather than waiting for you to give them orders. That will benefit the company and you will look good because you are causing a beneficial transformation.”

Of course, Carla will not be able to transform her work style overnight. “It may be that Carla does not know how to get started,” says Runde. “You may need to mentor her. Ask her to start thinking about new ways to get her colleagues more involved in the work process. In lieu of issuing abrupt orders, she might ask employees to come up with their own procedures for reaching specific work goals.” In the beginning this approach might take a little more time, so let Carla know that will be acceptable to you.

“Check in with Carla from time to time to see how she is doing,” says Runde. “It’s likely that she will have experienced some successes and encountered some difficulties. Discuss these with her. Ask ‘What accounted for your successes? What challenges got in the way the other times?’ This dialog will help Carla perform at a higher level.”

Alex: Once burned, twice shy

Alex, a recent addition to your workforce, has not been speaking up at staff meetings. You think you know why. One of his recent proposals had been shot down by Roger, a department head, who employed a disparaging and humiliating tone of voice. Now Alex figures it’s better to keep his ideas to himself.

How can you help Alex recover his confidence? Kramer suggests bringing him in for a meeting and saying something like this: “Alex, you have been very quiet at our recent meetings. Something is going on. Can you share what has been happening with you?” If Alex seems hesitant to speak up, you might reassure him that what he says will remain confidential, with words such as these: “This meeting is confidential. Nothing you say will go outside these doors. I want to do my best to help handle whatever is going on with you.”

At this point Alex may share his concern about how his proposal was disparaged. Here, Kramer emphasizes the importance of utilizing good listening skills. “Don’t interrupt Alex, don’t correct him, don’t tell him to suck it up,” he says. “When he is finished say something like this: ‘Thank you for sharing this with me. I am very sorry that I was not aware of your reaction when this happened. If something similar happens again I will defend you.’”

At this point you can invite Alex to work on ways to overcome the problem in the future. Kramer emphasizes the importance of letting Alex come up with his own solutions rather than dictating a course of action. Alex may well decide that at the next staff meeting he will come prepared with suitable rejoinders to defend his ideas.

Now, how about confronting Roger with his treatment of Alex? While it may be tempting, Kramer cautions that the initiative can backfire. “Roger’s performance in the meeting indicated that he had little regard for Alex,” says Kramer. “It was more important that he grandstand himself at the expense of a fellow employee.” Confronting him with Alex’s statement may cause him to treat Alex worse.

Instead, says Kramer, try to persuade Roger to mend his ways by counseling him with words that couch the issue in terms of a larger good. In a private meeting, ask Roger “How would you go about improving the morale of the staff and its performance?” See if you can direct the conversation in a way that Roger becomes aware not specifically about how he has treated Alex but about how he can become more supportive of his fellow employees in general. This will translate into a more productive relationship between Roger and the other employees. And that can only be good for Roger’s own career advancement.

Three keys to success

The above scenarios illustrate three critical principles for resolving workplace conflicts. First, open the channels of communication. Second, encourage employees to develop their own solutions. Finally, explain that working productively with other employees is in the self-interest of everyone involved.

Above all, understand that workplace conflict is a management issue. Take seriously your own responsibility to help embattled workers resolve their differences. The result will be a fatter bottom line. “The amount of energy employees spend avoiding and reacting to conflict affects workplace productivity,” says Kramer. “And that can be very expensive.”

4 ways the beef industry should capitalize on consumer eating habits

The beef industry has always strived to meet the growing demands of its consumers. Whether that’s expanding to niche markets, discovering new beef cuts, training culinary students and chefs in emerging beef preparation trends, or educating our retail customers about beef nutrition and production, cattle industry professionals are keen to remain America’s most beloved protein choice.

Photo Credit: Beef It's What's For Dinner

To meet changing consumer demands, it’s important to understand what the customer is looking for, how they think, and their evolving preferences. A recent study conducted by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) revealed 11 interesting facts about America’s eating habits. The study looks at favorite foods, dining habits, fast food options, snacks and more to decipher how our on-the-go lifestyles translate to food choices that are more experiential, convenient and impulse-driven.

After reading through the 11 interesting facts, which you can view here, I found particular interest in four items, which could be useful to the beef industry:

  • An increase in the number of meals prepared and eaten at home and a corresponding decline in restaurant usage is one of the single biggest changes in eating patterns in American’s of the past five years (NPD, 2014).
  • One quarter of consumers ate soup at home at least once a week in 2014. While broth, stew, chowders, and chili are Americans’ favorite forms of soup, one third of consumers would eat more soup if it contained a serving of vegetables, was heart healthy, or high in protein (Technomic, 2014).
  • When it comes to fast casual restaurants, the Asian/noodle sector is projected to lead growth, followed by Mexican, coffee/café, chicken, and bakery café. The pizza, sandwich and burger segments are expected to underperform (Technomic, 2015).
  • Twenty-eight percent of consumers are preparing ethnic foods more frequently than five years ago (FMI, 2015).

Here are my thoughts on these items and how the beef industry can capitalize on this information:

First, if consumers are opting to save money and eat at home, this presents an opportunity and challenge for beef producers. Beef tends to be a little more intimidating to many consumers — thanks to beef’s variety, versatility and the many beef cuts and preparation options these choices entail — so equipping our local meat retailers with educational pamphlets, conducting demonstrations, or introducing our friends to new cuts and cooking ideas can help reduce some of the confusion about cooking with beef.

READ: Explore beef cuts and beef recipes 

Photo Credit: Beef It's What's For Dinner

Second, if one fourth of consumers are eating soups at home at least once each week, this indicates to me that many Americans are relying on crockpot meals that can be made in the morning before work and will be hot and simmering when they arrive home after the work day. Beef is a shining ingredient in many broths, stews, chowders and chilis, and is often an affordable way to add protein in a family meal, plus creates leftovers consumers can take to work. Providing retailers and consumers with crockpot meal ideas that feature beef would be another great step in beef promotion.

READ: Gotta-try beef chilis from Beef It's What's For Dinner

Photo Credit: Beef It's What's For Dinner

Finally, whether dining out or eating in, more consumers are seeking ethnic foods than they were five years ago. Beef can be the center of many ethnic dishes from stir-fry to enchiladas, and because IFT anticipates that burger joints will underperform in the upcoming years, traditional burger restaurants should seek to add an ethnic flair or surprising toppings to their burgers to appeal to the 47 million Americans who consider themselves as foodies and are seeking an out-of-the-ordinary culinary experience.

Check Out: Recipes for burgers with ethnic flair from Beef It's What's For Dinner 

The beef industry has a real opportunity to shine in the upcoming year, and it would behoove us to pay attention to the eating and spending habits of our consumers. Let’s make a special effort to appeal to consumers in the ways listed above, and whether it’s a grassroots, local effort or a larger campaign conducted on a state or national level, I truly think if we hit these bullet points, we can make a difference.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.

 

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