Beef mantra: Give consumers what they want |

Beef mantra: Give consumers what they want

Consumers are always in the driver’s seat when it comes to selling products, beef included. That’s why success in the beef industry during the coming decade will depend so heavily on the industry’s ability to give consumers what they want – no matter how often they change their minds.

That was the message from Dr. Gary Smith, distinguished agricultural professor at Colorado State University, during the beef checkoff’s 2010 Innovative Beef Symposium in Denver last week.

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten,” Smith told the 80-plus processors, manufacturers and retailers who participated in the two-day event. “Innovation matters,” he said, if you want to have any chance of attracting new customers and entering new markets.

Innovation can come in various forms – including a company acting spontaneously, investing in a breakthrough and branding it, designing success into new products, or through in-depth research and “homework.”

To date, Smith said, the Beef Checkoff Program has done extremely well with innovation through research that leads to development of new beef products that meet consumers’ changing demands. At the heart of that innovation is muscle profiling, which has developed new cuts from the shoulder clod, the chuck roll and, most recently, the round.

“I think the Beef Checkoff Program … has done a tremendous job of looking down the road,” Smith said, “plucking steaks out of the chuck and round and making something between ground beef and traditional steaks.” Beef Value Cuts created through muscle profiling have truly maximized the value of the chuck and the round – turning previously ground product into profitable steaks.

Looking forward, Smith said, it is important to remember that businesses and industries fail for two reasons: their inability to escape the past and/or their inability to invent the future.

During the next five years, Smith said, the beef industry will experience decreased demand domestically and increased demand on international fronts, and stakeholders will have to become more “consumer-centric and export-minded” if they are to succeed.

“We will differentiate to drive demand, with more product branding and increased innovation,” he said. “Give the consumers what they want – give them product diversity!”

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