BEEF bits

Jan 15, 2010
by WLJ

CAB partners with famed New York chef

Chef John Doherty of the famed Waldorf Astoria New York has reached an agreement to serve in the capacity of quality ambassador for the Certified Angus Beef (CAB) brand. That means he will offer his views on how to best use CAB brand products and promotions from a restaurateur perspective, represent CAB at industry events, and provide his talents for media opportunities. Beef producers have seen Doherty pictured with South Carolina Angus seedstock operator Kevin Yon in a 2009 advertising series along with the caption, “Angus. The real pasture to plate story.” In 2008, the chef took time to travel to Montana for some firsthand insight into the ranching roots of the brand. He emphasized, “This kind of quality does not happen by chance.” Citing CAB’s “sheer dedication to its cattlemen,” Doherty called the brand “one of America’s great success stories.”

Restaurant outlook remains uncertain

The outlook for the restaurant industry remained cloudy in November as the National Restaurant Association’s comprehensive index of restaurant activity registered its third decline in the last four months.

The association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) stood at 97.8 in November, down 0.2 percent from its October level. In addition, the RPI remained below 100 for the 25th consecutive month, which signifies contraction in the index of key industry indicators. The Current Situation Index stood at 96 in November—down 0.5 percent from October and tied for its second-lowest level on record. In addition, November represented the 27th consecutive month below 100, which signifies contraction in the current situation indicators. Restaurant operators reported negative same-store sales for the 18th consecutive month in November, with the overall results similar to the September and October performances.

AMI defends against attacks

The American Meat Institute (AMI) has stepped up its defense of the beef industry in light of the recent spate of negative stories regarding beef in the media. In an attempt to highlight the positive aspects of the industry, AMI recently released a fact sheet which demonstrates the industry’s commitment to safety. In particular, AMI noted that since 2000, E. coli O157:H7 prevalence has decreased by 45 percent in ground beef to less than 0.5 percent, according to USDA ground beef sampling data. Likewise, Salmonella prevalence in ground beef has declined more than 50 percent since 2000, according to USDA ‘s Salmonella performance data. Since 2000, E. coli O157:H7 infections in humans have declined by 44 percent, according to Centers for Disease Control data. The U.S. beef industry benefits by producing beef products that are as safe as we can make them. Food safety data show that we take our responsibility seriously.

Increase in bison numbers sought

The National Bison Association recently announced a campaign to encourage new producers to get into the business and to encourage existing ranchers to increase their herds. Among the association’s efforts is the recent release of the all-new “Bison Producers’ Handbook.” The 280-page handbook contains material written by more than 30 experienced bison ranchers, processors and marketers, and is designed as a resource for new producers and veterans alike. For information about obtaining the handbook, visit www. During 2010, the National Bison Association also will be conducting a series of workshops, funded through a grant from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, to assist small-scale bison producers in using farmers’ markets as a successful sales outlet.

Polling group predicts trends

The Nielsen polling group has released its annual survey of expected consumer trends for the year ahead. Among the five trends topping the list, Nielsen predicts that consumer thrift will remain one of the biggest market factors this year, with 30 percent of consumers saying they will use credit less even when the economy improves and 19 percent saying they intend to save more money. In addition, the group predicts that restraint will remain the new normal; Value will be a top priority; Store brand growth will continue; Grocery chain consolidation will intensify; and assortment wars will escalate leading to consolidation of small- and medium-sized brands with larger companies.