Branded Beef Increasingly Demanded

As a growing number of consumers shy away from products containing ingredients they can’t pronounce and increasingly opt for products that are grown or produced locally, branded beef products play well.

Those consumers want to know where their meat comes from, and the best way to handle that demand is for more producers within the industry to retain ownership of their cattle throughout the breeding, feeding, slaughter and marketing processes.

Programs like Certified Angus Beef and Rancher’s Reserve certainly have their place at the table, but for many, the emphasis is on being able to see the farmer or group of farmers who produced the meat.

Startup companies are springing up to give those consumers what they want.  The marketing emphasis might be on the group or Native American tribe who produced the meat; or it could be on the breed or hybrid that produced the meat; it could even be on the individual producer.

Getting into these branded-beef businesses is difficult, however, keeping many from taking the plunge but leaving the way open for those who have the drive.




In reading the reviews of some local talent that produced a branded beef program, one thing seems to stand out.  In each case, the producer(s) wanted to set themselves apart from commodity beef for a particular market.

They already produced, or wanted to produce, a product they could be proud of, whether that meant a well-marbled steak or beef from animals that were raised or fed according to certain protocols.

For many, this meant going to local restaurants or hotels and working with them to find what kind of beef was desired.  Often, this was a high-eating-quality product that chefs could display proudly on their menus.

For others, it meant creating a brand that was marketed to a large area of the country.

In all cases, it meant exercising greater control over the breeding and growing of the cattle, and this means tracking them in one form or another.

Successful brands also have a strong marketing campaign in common.  It doesn’t seem to be enough to just produce the meat, have a Web site and wait for customers to come.  They are out marketing the product to potential clients.




But not all branded programs are successful.  Consumers can be finicky and fickle, saying one thing and doing another.  They may say they want certain qualities to the beef they eat, yet they are unwilling to pay the higher price necessary to produce the product.

Consumers also may not desire the particular product.  This may be because they’ve never tried it, or the details of what differentiates the product from commodity beef are beyond what they want to know.

An attempt to flush out all the blood in a carcass with a chilled mixture of water containing small amounts of sugars and electrolytes is one example.  Called “rinse and chill,” the process has never caught on in a broad sense with consumers, even though research in Australia shows the process works.




Scattered cash cattle trades were reported in Nebraska Tuesday at $134 per cwt on a live basis, up $1 from the top end of last week’s action.  Since then, bids of $133 were rebuffed by sellers elsewhere who were seeking $135 to $138.

USDA reported higher wholesale beef prices Wednesday, with choice up $0.03 per cwt from Tuesday at $235.21, and select up $1.47 at $229.08.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $6.13 from $7.57, and there were 90 loads of fabricated product sold into the spot market.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Tuesday was $164.04 per cwt down $0.47.  This compares with the Jan settlement Wednesday of $160.77, up $0.55.