Beef Board reshapes to pursue demand

Aug 10, 2012

There’s some reorganization going on at the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB). In a very form-follows-function move, a recently approved committee proposal will make the group’s structure reflect its attention to consumer demand for beef.

During the late July Cattle Industry Summer Conference, CBB deliberated and voted upon, and unanimously approved a committee restructuring proposal for the joint advisory committees with the Federation of State Beef Councils (Federation). The proposal was drafted by a task force which recommended structure more in keeping with the group’s long term market goals and focus on what drives consumer demand.

According to CBB Chief Executive Officer Polly Ruhland, the approved proposal calls for a new core structure to the committees covering four main areas of attention: domestic consumer preference, global growth, beef’s image, and freedom to operate.

“Of course, most of the checkoff funding goes for work in the domestic consumer preference area; in other words, getting American consumers to love beef more than they already do,” explained Ruhland. “And the subcommittees are the consumer demand drivers that we know through checkoff-funded research drive consumer decisions about purchasing beef.”

The subcommittees cover five different areas of consumer demand concerns: convenience, safety, value, health and nutrition, and taste. The new subcommittee structure will absorb a number of the current programs going on with CBB in what will hopefully be a more efficient means of organization and decision-making.

Below are brief descriptions of what the consumer demand subcommittees will cover: • Convenience—Fulfilling consumer expectations on selection, preparation, and ease of use through new product and culinary initiatives, product enhancement, advertising, public relations, etc.

• Safety—Improving the safety of and consumer confidence in beef via Beef Safety Research, producer education through the Beef Quality Assurance program, and issues management.

• Value—Satisfying consumer preferences for protein in a fair price through new product initiatives, food service outreach, advertising, and product enhancement.

• Health and Nutrition—Increasing the knowledge of consumers about health and nutritional benefits of beef through public information campaigns, human nutrition research, and retail and food service outreach programs.

• Taste—Delivering a consistent and excellent eating experience through culinary initiatives, product enhancement and advertising.

“The other committees revolve around global marketing, the freedom to operate—in other words, attacks from activists and those kinds of things—and preserving the environment for beef sales,” said Ruhland.

The proposed restructuring was unanimously passed, but only after extensive discussion. Ruhland commented that the extent of the consideration the proposal received, both at the Summer Conference and before, demonstrates the dedication of CBB members to their responsibilities to cattle producers and the checkoff program.

These structural alterations apply to the joint committees between CBB and the Federation who together decide how best to use checkoff funds for the improvement of the overall beef industry. The changes also directly tie into the groups’ earlier-established five critical success factors, among them being the ability to strategically align with long term goals of the beef industry and consumer demand, and to be efficient in decision-making procedures.

In addition to the committee structure changes, CBB implemented a new means of nominating committee members and approved a new conference structure to fit the new committee structure. The new process of nominating committee members was said by CCB Chairman Wesley Grau to be quite successful in increasing democratic participation among members.

Due to the approved conference structure alterations, future industry conferences will open with an “industry scan” where overall industry concerns, advancements and articles of interest will be discussed. The subcommittees will then meet to discuss their individual topics before reporting to their parent committees. This overall conference structure, together with the approved joint committee reorganization, will be in place and ready for the winter conference in February 2013. — Kerry Halladay, WLJ Editor