Checkoff programs geared at moving middle meats

Mar 20, 2009
by WLJ
Checkoff programs geared at moving middle meats

An aggressive beef checkoff market response plan is in place to help protect beef demand in the meat case and on restaurant menus. This plan was quickly implemented in November 2008 when early economic signals indicated a need to proactively address channel and consumer purchasing decisions. Factors such as affordability, value and product versatility were becoming increasingly important.

Within the context of a worsening economy and given consumers’ perception that food prices overall were on the rise, a majority of consumers (61 percent) were actively changing the way in which they shop for food. Positioning beef as the protein of choice has always been a primary goal of beef checkoff marketing efforts.

The full-scale response plan reaches foodservice and retail partners, along with consumers, through public relations and advertising. It helps provide simple ways for consumers to economically justify their desire for beef, leverages existing programs to deliver economic resources, and includes quick-to-execute tactics.

“We understand that consumers are cutting back and saving more, but that doesn’t mean they have to give up the beef experience,” says Don Stewart, importer from Chicago, IL, member of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, and vice chair of the Global Marketing Group. “Our checkoff dollars are being wisely invested in programs such as these to help build beef demand and thus help increase producer profitability in an otherwise tough economy.”

Some of the new checkofffunded programs and promotions being executed this year to help address the current situation with middle meats (cuts from the Rib, Loin or Sirloin such as Ribeye, T-bone and Tenderloin) and keep all beef top of mind with retailers/consumers in the retail channel are:

1. Beef alternative merchandising

This program shows supermarket retailers new merchandising methods for the Top Loin, Ribeye and Top Sirloin. These new methods address price sensitivities and provide consumers with appealing portion sizes, leaner looking and more affordable cuts of their favorite steaks.

2. Retail pricing matrix

This program helps retailers identify the unique opportunity that exists with promoting middle meats.

This will be especially helpful given that wholesale prices are the lowest they’ve been in 10 years. The matrix details the relationship between yielded cost, retail price and gross margin. The matrix also shows beef middle meats can be featured at competitive retail prices while still providing the retailer with a reasonable gross profit. Now that more consumers are eating at home, retailers can provide a premium steak eating experience at a great value.

3. Slice and save

This program is designed for the “Do It Yourself, buy in bulk,” shopper who does not mind a little extra work to save money. The program offers great savings to people who buy beef in subprimal form and then choose to cut and wrap it themselves.

4. Bargain beef bundles

This is a new twist on the concept of buying beef by the side or quarter. It shows retailers how they can offer consumers bargain pricing when they buy beef in bulk. Home freezer sales are the top selling appliance right now. As a result, the checkoff is providing retailers and consumers ways they can save by buying beef in bulk and storing in their freezers.

5. Promotions and media

More than 90 percent of consumers are using coupons to make food purchases. The checkoff wants to make sure beef is top of mind for consumers, thus, will be distributing more than 60 million coupons for beef, five times more than last year. “We’ve seen this change in consumer purchasing patterns affect retail channels with dollar sales for beef increasing dramatically (14.3 percent) in November 2008. While the casual dining business may be suffering, we see opportunity in retail because more consumers are buying in the store and cooking at home,” says Stewart. “Our advertising, foodservice and consumer public relations teams are also working to leverage the trend toward more cooking at home and help protect beef demand.

These programs and promotions are a great way to drive beef sales and give consumers the family mealtime experience they’re looking for.” — WLJ