Don Close of Rabobank Calls for Structural Changes to Keep Beef Industry CompetitiveTue, 04 Feb 2014 16:15:27 CST
Changing consumer preferences and a production model tailored to the production of top-shelf steaks has put the U.S. cattle industry in a position losing market share to competitive proteins, according to a new report from the Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research (FAR) and Advisory group. The report, "Ground Beef Nation," notes the industry needs to change the way beef is produced in order to remain competitive in the protein market.
"Under the existing business model, the U.S. cattle industry manages all fed beef as if it were destined for the center of the plate at a white table cloth restaurant," notes Rabobank cattle economist Don Close. "The industry is, essentially, producing an extraordinarily high-grade product for consumers who desire to purchase a commodity. More than 60 of U.S. beef consumption is ground product. If the U.S. cattle industry continues to produce ground beef in a structure better suited to high-end cuts, the result will be continued erosion of market share."
Close spoke with Radio Oklahoma Network's Ron Hays at the Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville, Tenn. (You can hear their conversation by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.)
"The core question I was looking at was, 'If the customer is always right and the tastes and preferences or choices of that customer are changing, does the industry need to take a look at making some adaptations to better meet and supply that market?' I think it's a very real question," Close said.
His report goes on to explore the trend of changing consumer preferences and the role pricing plays in the notable decline in beef consumption. The industries that produce competitive proteins such as pork and chicken have grown and become more efficient, making the products more readily available at competitive prices. "
The industry must change to a production model that determines the best end use of an animal as early as possible, in order to compete in a Ground Beef Nation," notes Close. "A new system for end-use categorization that influences calf selection, cattle management, production costs and feeding regimen throughout the life of the animal is vital to keeping beef competitive with other choices at the meat counter."
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