Polly Ruhland, Cattlemen’s Beef Board CEO, recently gave us an overview of beef consumption versus demand. Today, she goes on to explain beef demand drivers.

To listen to the audio, click here.

Ruhland:  “Demand drivers are those things that make consumers want, or sometimes in negative cases, make them not want, in the case of demand limiters, to purchase beef and beef products. Economic determinants are at the top of the driver list. What does that mean? It means consumers' disposable income, right? It means what the economy is doing. Can we control the economy? No, we can’t control supply. And so without total control over the economy of supply, we have to find those things in the checkoff that we can control -- like consumer preference. Consumer trends are demand drivers. Qualities of our product, such as taste, consistency and convenience (sound familiar?), are consumer demand drivers. Changes in consumer demographics, changes in lifestyles .. those are demand drivers. So what we try to do in the checkoff is do adequate market research so that we understand what those drivers are in a changing consumer environment and play to our strengths with beef checkoff money.” (1:13 seconds)

So how does the checkoff address these demand drivers?

Ruhland:  “We can improve and tell consumers about beef safety, for example. We can deliver more consistent, quality product -- including taste and tenderness. We can offer convenience to consumers. And we can respond to other things they want in the marketplace. We can drive toward certain demographics. Those are things the checkoff can do to support and influence consumer demand. Amazingly enough, the Long Range Plan reflects these things. So we have four committees that are lined up with our Long Range Plan core strategies. Demand drivers are at the very heart of how the checkoff works toward achieving the core strategies of the Beef Industry Long Range Plan, but because it’s an industry-wide Long Range Plan, some of those core strategies are appropriate for checkoff work and some of them are not appropriate for checkoff work. It’s an industry long range plan not a checkoff long range plan.” (:58 seconds)

Ruhland also addresses some of the challenges facing the checkoff, and goes on to explain what the new checkoff committee structure means when facing those tough times head-on.

Ruhland:  “So as we look ahead, budget constraints top the list of challenges for the Beef Checkoff Program. We have an issue with shrinking dollars in the checkoff program. But I will tell you that this type of decision that you will be able to make in this new committee structure will allow you to make better decisions on behalf of the beef checkoff; will allow you to be more efficient with your priority-setting; will allow you to direct staff and contractors better; because big-picture, consumer-based decisions work better. And so, even though we do have a resource issue, I can tell you that I firmly believe this new committee structure is a path to the future for better checkoff programs.” (:53 seconds)

Reporting for the beef checkoff, I’m Melissa Slagle. For more about your beef checkoff investment, visit MyBeefCheckoff.com.