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Angus Productions Inc.
Copyright © 2009
Angus Productions Inc.

Winning Game Plan Discussed for Beef Industry


PHOENIX, Ariz. (Jan. 30, 2009) — Developing a winning game plan for the consumer marketplace and Washington, D.C., was the focus of the Beef Producer Huddle Friday, Jan. 30, at the 2009 Cattle Industry Convention in Phoenix, Ariz. Serving as emcee for the morning’s program was Kevin Ochsner, the new host of Cattlemen to Cattlemen, the television program of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).

Throughout the session, the importance of offense and defense for a winning sports team was paralleled to similar tactics that the beef industry must focus on to maintain beef demand in the year ahead.

“Current conditions put beef in a challenging position,” Ochsner said, but he emphasized the importance of working together to develop a plan. “Successful teams position themselves to win.”

Kansas State University economist James Mintert addressed convention participants to provide insight on factors affecting beef demand. He acknowledged the current downturn in the economy saying, “In 2009 U.S. beef demand will be hurt by the weak U.S. economy, and there’s not much our industry will be able to do to stop it.”

But Mintert said the beef industry should focus on being positioned to take advantage of the U.S. economy when it begins to rebound in 2010 and 2011. He emphasized that the industry must continue to keep beef quality and safety top of mind and also convey beef’s positive health and nutrition messages to consumers.

Additionally, Mintert emphasized that convenience is still important to consumers in their food choices. He encouraged the beef industry to continue developing new, convenient beef products for home and restaurant consumption.

NCBA’s Kim Essex and Bo Reagan addressed the audience and provided an update on efforts to help boost domestic beef demand, both through foodservice and retail. They shared how the beef industry is (1) continuing to work with foodservice entities to remind them to keep beef options on their menus and (2) working with coupon and recipe promotions at retail to encourage beef sales and help consumers understand how to stretch their dollar with beef meals. Efforts to keep beef in women’s, food and health magazines for feature articles are also continuing.

On the international scene, Phil Seng with the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) provided an optimistic outlook for beef exports.

“If we have luck with Japan and Korea, we expect to eclipse 2003 export levels,” he said. Beef exports dropped severely in 2003 after the first BSE case was identified in the U.S.

“Exports are really central to your profitability,” Seng told beef industry members. He explained that currently for every pound of beef sold as an export, it’s at a premium of $135 per head. As exports increase, he anticipates that will go to $200 per head.

“In these economic times, that is critical,” Seng said.

In concluding the session, Burton Eller, NCBA’s senior vice president of government affairs addressed convention attendees. He presented a list of the industry’s priority policy issues for 2009, which include renewable fuels, taxes, food safety and nutrition, environmental policy, climate change, animal welfare and trade.


With the conclusion of the session, cattle industry members spent the remainder of the day in committee meetings to discuss and direct policy issues for the year ahead.

Editor’s Note: This article was written under contract or by staff of Angus Productions Inc. (API), which claims copyright to this article. It may not be published or distributed without the express permission of Angus Productions Inc. To request reprint permission and guidelines, contact Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, at (816) 383-5270.