Results will soon be tallied on the comprehensive benchmark study called the National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA) which provides the beef industry with the current baseline of beef production and processing parameters.
The 2011 NBQA study is currently being conducted by meat scientists at leading land-grant universities. Phase 1 of the project includes face-to-face interviews with government, allied industry, packers, food service, distributors, and purveyors to gather data on the quality attributes of beef. During the interviews, beef supply chain representatives, are asked to define traits and rank the traits that are most important to their sector of the industry. They are also asked to indicate their willingness to pay for those different attributes given the priorities set for their business.
Phase two of the project is where meat science researchers spend time in the packing plants conducting cooler audits to quantify quality attributes of the carcasses being processed. These audits are conducted throughout the year and across the regions of the U.S., so that no specific time frame or location impacts the results. A long-list of quality characteristics such as ribeye size, fat thickness, marbling characteristics, carcass weight, quality and yield grade, and many more characteristics are measured and collected to determine the benchmark data.
Unique in the 2011 NBQA— that has not been a component of past audits — is the inclusion of feedback from cattle producers. Producers including feeders, stockers, cow-calf operators and seedstock producers have had the opportunity to provide input to shed light on the quality-based practices implemented at the grassroots production levels.
The NBQA is funded by the beef check-off and has become an important benchmark in the industry. The first audit was conducted in 1991 and follow-up studies have been conducted approximately every four years. The beef industry has heavily-relied on the audit results to provide education to producers and beef industry suppliers in efforts to gain a greater understanding about beef production. Beef quality management practices have been influenced by results such as an aggressive industry campaign to reduce injection-site lesions and steps to enhance tenderness and consistency.
Final results of the 2011 NBQA are currently being tallied with an estimated release date of the complete project findings in late May.
Source: Lynn Gordon