South Dakota Checkoff sponsors expo in nation?s capital

Feb 20, 2009
by WLJ

The South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC), in a joint venture with the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative, sponsored a major beef promotion in Washington, D.C., at the NBC 4 Health & Fitness Expo Jan. 10-11, 2009. SDBIC Director Roger Gerdes, a producer from Miller, was part of the Beef Team that showcased beef at the expo attended by more than 85,000 consumers. Gerdes is convinced on the need to promote beef in highly populated regions after talking with hundreds of consumers at the health and fitness event. “After seeing the masses of people that can be reached in a short period of time, and using the beef industry’s impressive educational materials, I came back very optimistic and really pumped up about using our Beef Checkoff to be part of the D.C. promotion,” exclaimed Gerdes.

SDBIC was asked to help showcase beef in the nation’s capital because Beef Checkoff funding is scare in the Northeast, but the population is very high. Gerdes said, “We’ve got the cattle and few people, while they have the people and few cattle. It makes sense to invest checkoff dollars where they can do so much good.” One goal of the D.C. beef promotion was to bring consumer attention to the health benefits of eating beef. Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative Public Relations Director Carrie Bomgardner welcomed the South Dakota support saying, “It’s pretty important for us to reach out to consumers in urban America. There is no better way for the beef industry to talk about the health benefits that beef delivers, the zinc, iron and protein, than in the new year. We are talking about new year’s resolutions and how lean beef can be part of a healthy diet,” states Bomgardner.

During the Health & Fitness Expo, beef was the focus of two center stage cooking demonstrations by the executive chef of Balducci’s, a Washington, D.C., area retailer. The chef used recipes from the Healthy Beef Cookbook while a beef industry registered dietitian explained beef’s nutritional package. In addition, beef recipes and beef coupons were distributed to consumers visiting the expo’s beef booth. Bomgardner stated the coupons can be redeemed at any area Balducci’s store.

“These coupons will help drive beef demand in the Washington, D.C., and Maryland suburb area during the month of January.

The coupon redemption will also help us measure the impact of this major beef promotional event,” explained Bomgardner.

Gerdes and a fellow beef producer from Pennsylvania welcomed the one-on-one contact with their customers. Beef materials distributed at the expo included the 29 Lean Cuts of Beef, a list of beef cuts classified as lean by USDA diet and health professionals. Gerdes said the information was well received by the consumer.

“The materials we were handing out were in demand. They were looking for them and you could tell that they were going to take them home and use them,” he said. Gerdes believes that most urban people hold positive beef perceptions and like to eat beef, but they aren’t always sure how to select or prepare beef. “Many of the people I spoke with were concerned about how to prepare beef properly so they can better enjoy eating beef,” explained Gerdes. The Beef Checkoff provided informational tools and recipes that were distributed to consumers stopping by the beef display. Gerdes was also able to visit with consumers about cattle production practices, answering questions and addressing concerns. He said, “Most folks think highly of farmers and ranchers. They just want to make sure that things are being done right and that they can be assured of a really healthy product.”

He added, “Putting a face to the beef industry helps maintain positive perceptions about beef.” — WLJ