A Few Thoughts by John Nalivka – A well-marbled steak and single malt scotch
February 8, 2019
I follow a couple of rules – first, never leave a good steak unattended on the grill and second, don't mix anything with expensive liquor except a couple of ice cubes. Those two rules can be combined into one – have a glass of good scotch in your hand while standing next to your grill and savoring those well-marbled thick cut steaks seasoned with only salt and pepper cooking to perfection. You may be wondering where I am going with this and whether it has anything to do with markets other than it does concern beef.
Just this week I read an article about "Nurture Ranch 1 Steer Ground Beef." The claims for this ground beef product were quite interesting and for many reading the article, probably better described as controversial. The "1 steer" was "100 percent grass fed – no feedlots, confinement, antibiotics, hormones, or GMOs" and "was a quality ranch breed like those found in steak houses." That steer is priced at $9 per pound. I am sure there are consumers who are both willing and able to pay $9 for "1 steer ground beef."
A few years ago the question was raised about growing demand for ground beef and whether the industry could supply that demand. In conversation, I somewhat facetiously made the comment, we can always grind the entire steer adding that I wasn't sure the consumer would be willing to pay the higher price that would be implied by grinding steaks. Of course, I was assuming the steer in question was grain finished since 98 percent of steers and heifers marketed are grain-fed. And, I while I do enjoy a good hamburger, I also enjoy a good steak – but not as a hamburger patty! It's somewhat like sorting calves – some are worth more than others and should be sold as a separate lot if you are to capture their higher value.
The U.S. beef industry is the most efficient producer of quality, wholesome, safe beef in the world. I am sure there is demand for that "1 steer ground beef," but let's not give the other 98 percent of U.S. beef which is grain-fed a black eye in order to market 2 percent of the beef. Going back to my two rules mentioned earlier – while I like ground beef, I prefer my steak as grilled to perfection as a steak. Call me a purist!