The checkoff-funded Beef Innovations Group, formerly known as R&D Ranch, is intensifying efforts to be the beef industry's primary resource for new product information and leadership. Anyone - from producers and processors to foodservice and retail channels - looking for the latest product trends, technologies and possibilities should "think BIG," said Cattlemen's Beef Board member Hope Huffman, a Texas producer and chairman of the checkoff's New Product and Culinary Initiatives Committee.
Among the new resources: an all-new Web site; a step-by-step product development process to share with the industry; and a global tracking system to monitor new beef and veal products arriving in the retail market. These tools are designed to help the BIG team act as an industry catalyst for the ideas and processes that give rise to new beef products.
"BIG has expanded services and resources for the changing times," Huffman explained. "If we're going to compete with other proteins, we must be ready with the ideas, people and systems to roll out the kinds of beef and veal products that consumers want."
New initiatives under the BIG umbrella include:
- A Web site, (www.beefinnovationgroup.com), a one-stop industry resource for leading-edge information, articles, tips and ideas
- In-depth research and testing among youth, to help influence lifelong beef lovers
- Development of a successful "hand-held" line of beef products
- Further research into uses for the chuck roll and knuckle, as well as shredded beef and ground beef initiative support
- Development of a patent pending steak sandwich product for Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs)
- Use of Mintel, a global new product development database, to track flavor trends, new kid-focused products, innovative packaging and all beef product offerings
The BIG team, comprising scientists, culinary professionals, operation experts, marketers and product specialists, has a notable R&D track record. The checkoff-funded muscle-profiling study, released in 1999, resulted in the Beef Value Cuts (BVCs). Some 103 million pounds of these cuts were sold through foodservice last year and 20,000 U.S. restaurants have menued at least one of these cuts. On the retail side, some 5,000 supermarkets carried the BVCs in 2005, up from 321 in 2003.