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Angus Journal

ILC–USA 2012
Are We Maintaining Quality & Consistency in the Beef We Produce?

by Troy Smith for Angus Productions Inc.


DENVER (Jan. 10, 2012) — Factors affecting consumer satisfaction with the quality and consistency of beef were discussed during the International Livestock Congress (ILC)–USA 2012 in Denver, Colo., Jan. 10. Addressing influences attributed to cattle genetics and management was Colorado State University animal scientist Daryl Tatum, while meat scientist Derek Vote, with JBS USA, talked about processor efforts to address consumer preferences.


Mark Gustafson
Derek Vote (left) and Daryl Tatum    photos by Kasey Miller

Referring to the national Beef Quality Audit, established 20 years ago and conducted every five years thereafter, Tatum said the first audit identified key issues. Consumers were concerned about quality. They felt beef was too fat, too tough and too inconsistent. Since then, explained Tatum, percentages of carcasses grading Choice and Prime have increased. The frequency of USDA Yield Grade (YG) 4 and 5 carcasses has stabilized and even decreased slightly.


“We’re doing a better job of producing Choice beef, but the supply won’t last with a shrinking herd,” Tatum warned. “And with the pressure on to produce weight, we’re going to see some Yield Grade 4s and 5s. I don’t see that changing much. However, the big carcass issue is being addressed by fabricating differently to market smaller cuts.”


Tatum noted how U.S. cattlemen raise cattle in very different physical environments, so there is need for cattle suited to different parts of the country and different resource bases. That will result in variation among cattle and the beef they produce. However, Tatum said too much variation still exists among cattle from a given region. Often, he added, great variation exists among cattle within a given lot or group. Addressing that issue should help remedy inconsistency of beef.


From the processor's perspective, Vote said development of programs for branding beef, by value, has allowed consumers to choose products for both price and quality.


“I think that has improved the consistency issue, but we receive questions about tenderness. Tenderness is a concern for some consumers,” explained Vote.


For additional coverage of ILC–2012, return to the ILC index page.


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