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Agricultural News

Meat Scientist Gary Smith Asserts More Innovation Neede to Market Larger Beef Cuts to Millennials

Tue, 26 Jun 2018 12:06:46 CDT

Meat Scientist Gary Smith Asserts More Innovation Neede to Market Larger Beef Cuts to Millennials Finished beef cattle weigh 330 pounds more today than 40 years ago, but meat cutters still try to maintain retail package weights equal to those from decades ago. Meat scientist Gary Smith explains.

“Part of that is because the average family size has been reduced. It's now 1.7 people per household,” Smith said. “And so, the ideal package in a retail market is somewhere between 3/4 of a pound and 1 pound. So, if you're going to sell a steak and it actually is bigger in size, width and depth and length, the only way that you can stay within that package target is to cut them thinner.”

To watch a short video clip featuring, Gary Smith, meat scientist and visiting professor at both Texas A&M and Colorado State University, talking about the need for innovation in marketing today’s larger retail beef cuts to Millennial shoppers, click or tap the PLAYBOX in the window below.

Meat cutters and purveyors have long complained that rib-eyes are getting too big, declaring something must change along the beef supply chain. But economic signals to produce more pounds have overpowered those voices.

“Rather than trying to tell the people at the packing, feeding level or even way back at the cow/calf production level, you got to make cattle smaller, that's just not going to happen. So, what we have to do is determine how we're going to deal with the fact that they are going to get progressively larger,” he explained. “And determine how it is that we can sell those at retail to people with no knowledge of how to cook anything.”

Consumers who get poor results with thin steaks switch proteins and cost the beef industry an estimated $8.6 billion per year in lost sales. If retailers won’t innovate to cut thicker steaks, a whole new marketing approach may be in order.

“I think we've hung onto things like t-bone, and porterhouse, and top sirloin, and I don't think that means anything to a millennial. I think we'd be much better off if we would have a row in the retail presentation that says braise,” he remarked. “And another row that says skillet, and another one that says pan-broil, and whatever.”

A recent Texas Beef Council study found 356 different beef cuts offered at retail, up from a more basic 90 cuts 40 years ago, but Smith says no name-based system will work well with Millennial shoppers.

“We’ve spent a lot of time in grocery stores watching them. And if anybody thinks they're going to stop and look up a bunch of things on their cell phone and figure out how you would cook that if you got it ... I don't know who that's supposed to be, but we didn't see those. They're somebody that comes up and in five to ten seconds they pick something, go home, and they're going to cook it in the skillet, whatever it is…,” Smith said. “In a lot of cases, we found that they were saying these are the seven different ways that you can prepare this piece of beef. Well, that's confusing. Why don't we just predict what it will taste like in the end and say the best way to do this is boil, the best way to do this is crock pot, and stop confusing them too much information.”

Food for thought as producers may worry less about making cattle smaller and just focus on making them better.

Source - Certified Angus Beef



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