New URMIS nomenclature unveiled at the 2013 Annual Meat Conference

Mar 1, 2013

Think consumers know all they need to know about meat cuts? Think again. Extensive research conducted by the National Pork Board (NPB) and the Beef Checkoff Program indicates that today’s consumers are as confused as ever when it comes to purchasing fresh meat.

Beef and pork producers have begun working together to demystify the meat case and add more value to the products.

According to the organizations, for the industries to help drive purchase intent, retailers need to help consumers better understand how to shop for and prepare fresh cuts available in the grocery meat case. The new cross-industry effort was established to increase consumer confidence by working to simplify common names for meat and create consistent, easy-to-follow preparation instructions.

The results of consumer research have culminated in changes to the Uniform Retail Meat Identification Standards (URMIS) nomenclature, the development of better on-pack label information, and other educational tools—all designed to help retailers stimulate meat case sales. This new initiative was presented at the 2013 Annual Meat Conference last week.

The Beef and Pork Checkoff programs released a list of new, proposed common URMIS names for consumer facing labels during the Annual Meat Conference in Nashville on Monday. The research has shown that the current lengthy labels weren’t relevant to today’s shopper, the groups said.

“We’ve got a very confused consumer,” said Michael Uetz, principal at Midan Marketing. “We believe this is a real gamechanger for our industry,” said Patrick Fleming, director of retail marketing for NPB. “The update to URMIS nomenclature will be more consumer-friendly by  removing redundancies and using familiar terms that are more consistent across multiple channels. Pork will specifically benefit by the ability to utilize some consumer-friendly beef nomenclature, allowing customers to recognize cut names more easily.”

“Our goal is to simplify the meat case, and consumers told us that consistency is key. We now have an aligned perspective and consumerdirected approach that will make it easier for shoppers to buy and prepare beef,” said Jim Henger, senior executive director of B2B Marketing for National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. Every beef farmer and rancher and every beef importer contributes to a fund called the beef checkoff, which is used to support retail merchandising efforts.

A two-part educational session at the 2013 Annual Meat Conference, “Demystifying the Meat Case for Today’s Confused Consumer,” presented solutions to help clear up consumer confusion with simplified fresh meat nomenclature. Part I covered new qualitative and quantitative consumer research that identified key consumer issues with meat cuts and set the stage for the development of a more simplified, consumer-friendly URMIS.

New cutting edge in-store and in-lab eye tracking research results will provide insights as to what draws consumers’ attention and motivates their fresh meat purchases. Online research results will provide insights into effective message development for shopper communication, pointof-sale and more. Part II provided a detailed review of the new nomenclature and provided educational information and tools for putting it to use.

Since 1973, URMIS provides a numerical retail meat cut identification system and standardized nomenclature for every retail red meat item (beef, veal, lamb and pork). URMIS has guaranteed that shoppers can identify and purchase the same cut of meat under the same name in every store, in every city across the country.

Research conducted over the past 18 months presented a need to revise the existing beef and pork nomenclature, according to the organizations. A crossindustry effort was established to increase consumer confidence by simplifying common names for meat and offer shoppers consistent, easy-to-follow preparation instructions.

According to, consumers are confused about fresh meat cuts, and need more help with packaging and cooking.

What’s changed

The industry has a new, aligned perspective regarding on-pack labeling best practices and a revised UR- MIS nomenclature that has been consumer-tested and reviewed by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service and Marketing Service and the Industry-Wide Cooperative Meat Identification Standards Committee (ICMISC).

Now through March 18, 2013, the group is seeking industry feedback on the new beef and pork nomenclature which will then be passed onto the ICMISC for approval. In June 2013, the final program elements will be ready on for download.

The plan is to simplify labels, get rid of unappealing names, and to reformat the layout. Now, common names are larger on the first line and characteristics appear on a second line.

For example, instead of “Beef Chuck Eye Country Style Ribs Boneless,” the new name would be “Country-Style Ribs” with “Beef, Chuck Eye and Boneless” on the second line.

A third line will have a suggestion for how to prepare the cut.

The industry can view the list of common names and comment on the proposed naming system by March 18 on There will be a conference call on March 27 with IC- MISC to address concerns.

After ICMISC approves the new label, the voluntary labeling guidelines will need to be approved by USDA. — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor