Certified Hereford Beef (CHB) LLC experienced a record year of growth during fiscal year 2014 with 50.2 million lb. of product sold — a 2% increase compared to the previous year’s total. Since 2008, CHB LLC has increased beef sales by 43%.

“Once thought of as a start-up branded beef program, the 19-year-old CHB® brand has weathered many storms including the growing complex of Angus beef programs that have proliferated foodservice, export, fast food and even beef jerky and pet food brands,” says Craig Huffhines, American Hereford Association (AHA) executive vice president. “What’s made the difference for the American Hereford Association’s flagship commercial marketing brand are its unique name, its consistent quality and the fine people who own the brand — the more than 5,000 AHA members.”

CHB LLC staff, along with the program’s marketing partners, tout the advantages of CHB product in marketing differentiation when compared to “Angus brands,” along with the fact that it is a consistently tender, juicy and flavorful beef product. These advantages are fueling the brand’s advance in both food service and retail markets.

“We are very proud of the progress we have made in growing the CHB brand,” says Dale Venhuizen, CHB LLC president and a Hereford cattle breeder from Manhattan, Mont. “We’ve made terrific gains in the marketplace despite tight cattle supplies, record high beef prices and a consumer trend of trading down to lower cost proteins.”

Huffhines adds, “Much of the progress in brand growth can be attributed to a dynamic group of dedicated Certified Hereford Beef professionals who work for the Association along with the partnership forged with two quality conscious beef packing companies — Greater Omaha Packing Co. Inc. and National Beef Packing Co. LLC. We are very proud of the team we have assembled and the daily focus we place on supply chain management and customer education.

“Today’s consumer is evolving. The millennial generation of consumers, most of which are at least four generations removed from the family farm, want to know how the food they eat is produced and they expect good value and a great eating experience. Our staff members spend a great deal of time training food distribution sales reps and retail supermarket meat merchandisers to answer the most important questions consumers are interested in. We then want our customers to know who we are, who the families are that dedicate their lives to producing high-quality beef.”

Food service continues to provide the most growth opportunity for CHB LLC. As consumers continue to prepare fewer meals at home, CHB LLC has worked hard to supply a high-quality source of beef to restaurateurs and chefs through distribution agreements around the country.

This past year, CHB LLC added several distributors to support domestic and international restaurant markets including international resort markets in the Caribbean and Central and South America. New distributors include: Sysco, St Louis, Mo.; Ocean Beauty, Boise, Idaho; Santa Rosa Meat Co., Santa Rosa, Calif.; Ameristar/FSA, Spokane, Wash.; Sysco International, Fla. (exports to the Caribbean, Central and South America); and Agri-Foods, Miami, Fla. (export consolidator).

An adequate supply of high-quality Hereford cattle to meet the growing demand for the beef program is a promise that must be met. To help get more cattle into the program during fiscal year 2014, CHB LLC staff focused on developing a feeding network and supply chain communication program.

This effort has helped increase Greater Omaha Packing Co. LLC cattle volume by 15.4% identified and 18.2% certified. Greater Omaha boasts of harvesting 2,000 head in one week for the CHB program with the goal of reaching 2,300 per week on a regular basis. Greater Omaha’s growth has complemented the already 4,500 to 5,000 carcasses per week certified through National Beef Packing Co.

Cattle numbers required to supply the CHB LLC program continue to create demand for Hereford and Hereford-English baldie cattle. A total of 362,624 cattle were identified through CHB-licensed packing facilities during FY 2014 as eligible from a live specification standpoint, while more than 267,967 carcasses were certified for the program — a certification rate of 74% for FY 2014.

Because of record low cattle inventories, program brand managers are continually asked if supply will become a problem. “Our Association experienced a 7% increase in cows on inventory and a 5.2% increase in registered yearling seedstock this fiscal year,” Huffhines explains. “Our membership is responding to the demand signals, by expanding numbers and participating in the AHA breed improvement program so that more high value Hereford bulls are produced and marketed to be utilized in the largely black Angus influenced cow herd across the country. Rest assured supply will continue to match demand as more and more meat industry experts, distribution salesmen and ultimately consumers realize the guaranteed quality of Certified Hereford Beef.”

Since the inception of CHB LLC, 4.7 million cattle have been identified through licensed packing plants as meeting the live animal specifications, and 2.9 million carcasses have been certified to carry the CHB name. The CHB LLC board has set the goal to drive sales beyond 100 million lb. in the next five years.

“The opportunity is before us and our product has stood the rigors of time,” Venhuizen says. “We fully expect this brand to expand and prosper both domestically and internationally over the next five years.”

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Fiscal Year 2014 Certified Hereford Beef LLC program highlights

  • 74% certification rate.
  • 304 retail supermarkets in 35 states.
  • More than 40 foodservice distribution centers.
  • Welcomed Mike Mitchem, CHB LLC director of food service sales.
  • Developed a strategic marketing plan involving business-to-business target communication, training and salesmanship, and a business-to-consumer message and communication plan. Commissioned new product photography to give point-of-sale materials a facelift.
  • Conducted several sales force and merchandiser trainings with Sysco Minnesota, Sysco St. Louis, Jake’s in Houston and Yokes in Spokane.
  • Signed ground beef and steak cutting licenses with Wolverine, Detroit; Buckhead, Chicago; and Burger Maker, New Jersey.
  • Focused efforts on building international marketing opportunities. Hosted two days of office tours, presentations and product sampling for 120 international buyers from around the world.