Be on the lookout for at least four new beef value cuts. The new cuts, fabricated from the beef chuck roll, are predicted to debut in foodservice and retail channels in 2008.
The group behind their appearance is the checkoff-funded Beef Innovations Group. The team, which comprises culinary professionals, food scientists, and marketing, operations and research experts, works to expand the value-cuts program by driving product innovation. Their information, insight and ideas assist the industry in coordinating the research and marketing for the new value cuts.
Consider the success of the first round of value cuts they helped bring to consumers. Since the introduction of these cuts, they have seen a dramatic rise in popularity, both in foodservice and retail outlets. The cuts — the Flat Iron, Petite Tender and Ranch steaks — are now on the menu in about 20,000 U.S. restaurants and the shelves of some 9,900 grocery stores across the country. Led by the especially popular Flat Iron, these value cuts added $50 to $60 a head to the value of the chuck, according to Cattle-Fax estimates. That increased value translates into increased profit opportunities for the entire beef supply chain.
And sales of the Flat Iron have stayed steady — about 119,000 pounds per quarter from the time it was introduced to the retail meat case until the third quarter of 2005, when more retailers started offering it. The most significant growth to date took place in the second quarter of 2006, with a 668 percent increase in sales compared to the previous year and a 46 percent increase versus the prior quarter. Feature advertising during this time also increased 114 percent compared to a year earlier. The average feature price was $3.75 per pound.
The word is that the next round of value cuts will include tender steaks for grilling, an affordable but elegant roast for dry roasting, boneless country-style ribs and a fully cooked roast. These cuts are expected to offer consumers both versatility and value, to work well with high-volume cooking, and to lend themselves well to home-style and ethnic dishes.
They are the next step in the value-cuts program that began in the late 1990s with the checkoff’s muscle-profiling research. Among the goals of the industry’s recently revealed long-range plan are expanding the value-cuts program and increasing beef demand an additional 10 percent by 2010, also the year of the next Beef Quality Audit. Because it’s a checkoff initiative, the plan needs to be approved for funding by the Beef Promotion and Operating Committee in September. If it is accepted, it will become the first formal long-range plan to guide national Beef Quality Assurance efforts, uniting the aims of all the existing state BQA programs.
Maximizing consumer confidence in beef and giving producers a “best practices” guide to increasing profits are the goals of BQA. Three principles guide the program: (1) producers can make a difference; (2) quality is the producer’s job, not someone else’s; and (3) product safety and wholesomeness is everyone’s business. For their part, consumers seem to think it’s working, and the new value cuts will give them another opportunity to demonstrate that.