With high beef prices come high expectations for a quality eating experience. In today’s market, it’s increasingly important for consumers to relate the Angus breed and Certified Angus Beef® (CAB®) brand with a superior tasting product.

A recent study at Kansas State University (K-State), funded by the Angus Foundation, aimed to better understand beef palatability and how branded programs may affect consumer ratings of beef products. Travis O’Quinn, K-State assistant professor and meat extension specialist, authored the research titled, “Determination of the effect of branding on consumer palatability ratings of strip loin steaks and ground beef.”

The results point to positive trends for cattlemen who target high-quality Angus genetics in their herds. According to O’Quinn: “For both steaks and ground beef, products that were branded as either ‘Angus’ or ‘Certified Angus Beef’ were rated higher and more acceptable overall by consumers than similar, unbranded and generic branded products.

“This research project was the first to demonstrate the palatability-related value of beef branding,” O’Quinn said.

The research objective was two-fold. First, determine the palatability differences of beef strip loin steaks and ground beef across the various quality levels, and second, evaluate how consumer palatability ratings are affected when products are identified with a brand (CAB®), USDA quality grade, lean point, or subprimal prior to evaluation.

 O’Quinn reports that CAB® steaks were rated 10% higher and Angus steaks 12% higher for consumer overall liking when the products were identified with a brand. No such increase was observed with USDA Choice or Select steaks.

Additionally, the research showed CAB® 90% lean ground sirloin increased 22% for consumer overall liking when the product was identified with the brand prior to testing. Primal-specific and lean point branded products received no increase due to branding.

“These results give a clear indication that consumers associate the Angus breed with a high quality product and this value perception is carried all the way through the eating experience,” O’Quinn said.

Further analysis shows that consumers associate the Angus breed with a high quality product and this quality perception results in a “brand lift” for the eating quality of Angus products, O’Quinn said. Results from this study also indicate a value-creation opportunity through Angus branding in ground beef products.

The American Angus Association’s research priorities committee approved funds for the K-State research through the Angus Foundation earlier this year, and the findings were released in June 2015. The full research report and project summary are available on the Angus Foundation’s website.

“The Angus Foundation strives to encourage and fund research projects where the benefits support the Angus breed and beef cattle industry,” says Milford Jenkins, Angus Foundation president. “Providing consumers the highest quality beef product possible is the goal of every Angus breeder, and this research project gives us more insight into consumer preferences.”

For more information on the study or additional project investments through the Angus Foundation, go online to www.angusfoundation.org.