Setting Beef Industry Priorities

Feb 21, 2014
by WLJ

The process for setting priorities and planning programs for our Beef Checkoff investments can, at times, be confusing. However, the results of a Beef Industry Scan provided us with compelling research findings to help industry leaders better understand the trends and market characteristics.

This scan gathers information from food and nutrition scientists, market representatives, and food-industry operators and is coordinated with our Beef Industry Long Range Plan to ensure that demand drivers are addressed adequately.

Highlights from the scan: The scan emphasized the importance of evidence to support the desired outcomes of our checkoff investments. Reporting what we see from our view simply is not enough—we must rely on sound science standards to ensure the ongoing success of checkoff programs.

The scan also emphasized the challenges and benefits of gaining acceptance for research and investing at a level that ensures consistent and sound results. No doubt, this is a difficult task given the strain on checkoff resources, but smart research investments prevent challenges that can negate efforts if they reduce confidence or make our work appear biased.

Another critical area is the need to identify and engage with our consumer target audiences in delivering our beef messages. That includes completed research to define millennials as our target audience and getting to know everything we can about their behaviors and demands regarding marketing and making decisions about beef for their families. This allows us to connect with them where they get their information—on digital platforms—and provide them with the information they need to understand the benefits of beef and the beef products they need to meet their very specific demands. Millennials bring very different attitudes than boomers when it comes to food, cooking and eating. Our research indicates the most important quality millennials look for in their food is a combination of taste, convenience and health. They try new ways of preparing food, including new cuisines from around the world, and are willing to pay more for food that meets their requirements.

By looking at application of this kind of market research, you can understand, for example, why a decision was made to move consumer advertising and marketing program for 2014 to a digital-only distribution platform to reach millennials with beef messages. Our research and experience with millennials tells us clearly that we must reach them where they live—and millennials live on their mobile devices and social networks.

In fact, almost 70 percent of millennials say they go first to the internet when they need information about anything—including beef. The data corroborate this: there are 2.5 million food-related posts online every day, and consumers register 4.5 million daily views on top cooking sites and 5.5 million on food-related searches.

Fortunately, millennials also are much more likely to share what they learn and to purchase items recommended by their friends on social media. Imagine how much that kind of sharing can help us spread our beef messages—as long as we maintain a product that meets the demands of these important consumers.

Another part of the scan looks at insight about demand drivers, including the Beef Demand Determinant Study that the checkoff commissioned and shared with all of you last spring and in numerous ways since then.

That report by Kansas State and Purdue University agricultural economists identified seven key beef demand drivers, with price, food safety and product quality identified as the ones on which the beef industry should focus to have the most compelling effects on beef demand in the long term.

With all this in mind, a 26-minute video summarizing the Beef Industry Scan can be found by visiting MyBeef- And remember, your checkoff leadership welcomes comments and suggestions, so please call the Beef Board office at 303/220-9890 and they will put you in touch with one of us. — Jimmy Maxey, Vice Chairman, Cattlemen’s Beef Board