New meat cuts add value to beef

Nov 6, 2009
by WLJ
New meat cuts add value to beef

“The end meats, the chuck or the shoulder, and also the round, dropped in value by over 25 percent over a fiveyear period,” said a University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) specialist.

That value loss led to research on the chuck and round to find new cuts. A muscle profiling research project identified some opportunities to provide better products for consumers, said Chris Calkins, UNL professor of animal science. The study characterized a lot of different muscles and it turns out that muscles have different characteristics. Some are more tender; some have a different flavor profile.

Muscles that grow together are not necessarily the same. Instead of taking a combination of muscles and selling it as a roast, which is a great meal but not very high in value, we can merchandise muscles individually. That way, muscles get optimal use.

There are a lot of advantages to breaking apart and selling individual muscles, Calkins said. It gives consumers a more consistent, reliable, repeatable product. It gives the beef industry an opportunity to create some new products that really provide value and flavor and taste for consumers.

Producers benefit from this kind of information because it raises the value of their products and helps to build customer loyalty, Calkins said.

“If we don’t innovate, eventually we’re going to lose customers to other protein products,” Calkins said.

So the big issue for producers is to help get the word out, Calkins said. This information was collected in part with funding from the beef checkoff. In cooperation with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, information on the new cuts is available on the Web at www.beefinnova It’s being presented to processors and retailers.

In addition, UNL hosts a bovine myology Web site ( to provide more technical information about the individual muscles.

“The bottom line is we want to do research that not only creates a publication, but that puts the information to work for Nebraska,” Calkins said. — WLJ