A new long-range plan designed to recapture global markets while catering to "time-starved" domestic consumers is on deck for the national Beef Checkoff program. The plan, expected to be released next month, was put together by a panel that represented all segments of the beef industry from producers to national chain restaurants.
It comes on the heels of a successful defense of the checkoff before the U.S. Supreme Court.
According to Al Svajgr, chairman of the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board, the long range plan is aimed at several tangible targets but, "none is more important than beef safety," he says.
The primary strategic objectives of the plan are to increase demand by 10% by the year 2010 and to increase exports of U.S. beef by 400% by 2010.
Svajgr and Monte Reese, chief operating officer of the Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board, spoke to producers at the 87th annual meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The beef board switched advertising dollars to radio away from television some time ago to cut costs and attain greater flexibility in a complex media environment.
The industry successfully faced the challenge of a flurry of media stories about concerns over bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Despite the prolific news reporting about two cases of BSE, which did not enter the food chain, the consumer confidence level for beef is "the highest in history," Reese says.
Svagjr, a Nebraska cattle feeder, says the long-range plan is a working draft and all segments of the industry will be studying the details of the document before it's officially released.
The two beef leaders says the industry is "cautiously optimistic" about the future for ranch families and U.S. beef in a global market. However, Reese says increased vegetarianism and chicken consumption may be equally threatening to the beef industry.
Whether it's fighting to maintain and regain global markets or convincing a "time-starved" parent to buy a hamburger rather than chicken nuggets at the fast food restaurant, the beef industry is poised to react to changing markets, the two beef spokesmen says.
The checkoff is focused on consumer research and market development. In the last six years beef checkoff research and development has resulted in 2,500 new beef products for consumers "who want a beef meal in 20 minutes."