Certified Hereford Beef to expand its label
When consumers head to the grocery store, they are accustomed to seeing an experienced butcher behind the meat counter, but, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for retailers to find knowledgeable meat cutters to put on their payroll, and as a result, the beef industry is looking for new ways to innovate and meet the needs of their customer base.
National Beef Packing will soon be expanding its business to include a retail ready line, which will offer solutions to retailers who don’t have the skilled labor in their grocery stores to fabricate and package primal cuts of beef.
National Beef recently signed an updated packer and process agreement with Certified Hereford Beef (CHB) to add a new line of value-added products to the brand.
“With this agreement, we can now offer additional items to consumers, at both food service and retail levels,” said Amari Manning, CHB chief operating officer. “We will soon be able to expand our product line to be able to reach more people and provide retail ready items they need.”
Wes Steimel, National Beef CHB business manager, says the retail ready line for CHB will allow grocers to expand the products offered on the shelves, while also saving on labor costs and reducing shrink.
“Typically, what we see now in grocery stores is a butcher behind the counter who cuts and packages steaks, grinds hamburger and makes patties, and puts various products out on the shelves for the consumer,” said Steimel. “What we see in the future is there will be fewer and fewer skilled meat cutters at grocery stores, so most of the trimming will need to take place at the packing plant or processor. With the value-added items, we can now create the retail-ready line at our facility. What this means is the grocer can take the meat out the box, put a label on it and set it in the case.”
Steimel says processing the beef at the packing plant allows the meat to have a 35-day shelf life.
“If the butcher opens up the meat, he has less than a week before it starts to turn brown, and he has to discount it,” he explained. “This adds shelf life, reduces shrink and saves labor and money by having it done at our facility. This packer-direct, retail-ready, consumer-ready packaging was almost unheard of at the packing plant level where live cattle are processed, but it cuts costs and offers the grocer a scannable label, complete with nutrition facts, so it’s ready to go once it hits the stores.”
He says that cutting the third party processor minimizes costs, which should translate to more affordable beef prices at the meat counter.
“This is a growing trend that will not only be applied to CHB, but to other programs, as well, in the near future,” said Steimel. “Right now, we are excited about rolling out with the CHB line. This agreement brings an added stream of revenue that’s packer direct instead of going through a processor. This opens up new avenues for us to explore additional product lines and product packaging methods, so we can keep up with the changing formats in the stores, particularly how fresh beef is packaged and stored in the meat case. We know that things are changing, and this is the right step to stay ahead of the curve.”
“We are excited about this updated agreement with National Beef because it allows further carcass utilization and enables us to offer a more extend product line,” added Manning. “We now have additional items we can offer such as the flat-iron, petite shoulder tenders, and pre-made patties that are retail ready and easy for grocers to have available to their customers.”
In order to be able to service retail ready products, National Beef had to expand its equipment line-up, as well as press the beef separately from the regular packing line.
“These products have to be ready to go directly to the consumer,” said Steimel. “Since the beef isn’t going on to a butcher to be cut to specifications, we have to take the extra steps to process the beef, fabricate it to size, and have everything looking presentable for the meat case, which includes the UPC scannable label. For example, our retail ready one-pound brick ground beef is ready for the meat case, so a butcher at a grocery store doesn’t have to grind the meat in the back room, he can now just take it out of the box and put it in the case. This means the beef isn’t exposed to oxygen, which helps the shelf life, and the grocery store can save costs by not having to have a butcher on hand to grind the beef.”
National Beef has partnered with CHB since 2008, and this agreement will expand the value-added program to include fresh ground beef, cut steaks and other products in a convenient packaging that cuts the middle man, extends shelf life and saves on costs.
“CHB has worked with Hereford breeders over the years to continue to improve the genetic quality of the animals, so we can have the best beef going into this program,” said Manning. “Today’s consumers are looking for more consistency in their beef products. They can relate to branded beef programs like CHB because they know it’s breed specific and the beef must meet certain standards. Because of this, they can enjoy the same high-quality eating experience every time. There is also a story behind the CHB program, which is rich in history and in producers who have been raising Hereford genetics for 350 years. I think this story appeals to our consumers who are looking for more about where their beef comes from.”
More demand for CHB at the retailers benefits the cattlemen on the ranch who are raising the beef, as well.
In a recent press release about the agreement, Jack Ward, American Hereford Association executive vice president said, “We continue to grow and create demand for high-quality, tender beef supplied by cattlemen that understand the value of adding Hereford genetics to the U.S. cow herd.”
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