For Immediate Release Oct. 29, 2000
Contact: Burt Rutherford at TCFA
Dr. Brad Morgan at OSU (405) 744-6062
INDUSTRY IN TRANSITION
AS CASE-READY BEEF COMES TO FORE
"We're going through a huge transitional change in the beef industry right now. Consumer demand for convenience is spurring a move toward branded, case-ready products-it's definitely the trend of the future."
And that, said Dr. Brad Morgan, meats scientist at Oklahoma State University, is causing the entire industry, from the retailer all the way to the ranch, to adapt to new and changing situations. "I compare this to when we went from carcasses to boxed beef. We're going through a similar transition right now from boxed beef down to case-ready beef," he told cattle feeders attending the "Partnering for Progress" Annual Convention of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association in Oklahoma City.
The industry transition is causing packers and processors to scramble to find the right product to fill case-ready specifications. "Most of the carcasses going into case-ready systems are YG 1 and 2 Select or Low Choice," he said, "and there are only so many of those produced."
That means the value of high-yielding carcasses that provide packers with the cutability they need is increasing. "You're talking about $10 to $12 per cwt. for YG 1 and YG 2 carcasses that grade Select or Choice." That's a significant departure, he said, from many of the recent grids that valued those carcasses at a $1 to $3 premium.
And since it's likely that the demand for high yielding, high cutability carcasses will continue, producers will need to take a hard look at how they can produce cattle to fulfill those needs, he added. For example, he described a recent agreement between a packer and a retailer for case-ready products. "In order to fulfill those obligations, the number of YG 1 and YG 2 cattle will be about half their daily kill. That's more YG 1 and YG 2 Select or Low Choice than we ever dreamt of in our life."
The move to branded, case-ready beef is affecting cattlemen in other ways, as well. "I think the beef industry is finally realizing the importance of brand loyalty," Morgan told cattle feeders. "We buy Sony televisions for a reason. And those reasons will be very important to us as we make the transition to a case-ready program with people putting their names and phone numbers on the product."
While case-ready, branded beef is certainly the trend in the industry, Morgan said a certain segment of consumers still want to buy and cook their food instead of heat it in a microwave. But even there, changes are underway that will affect everyone in the beef chain. "People are trying to figure out how to make beef foolproof but still keep it as a piece of beef. There's a tremendous amount of research and a lot of gearing up as we figure out how to enhance beef to make it foolproof."
That means the beef industry must make a guarantee to its consumers. "We must be able to provide a product that's palatable, safe, environmentally friendly and animal friendly-a 100% foolproof product that satisfies the consumer every time."
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