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Angus Productions Inc.
Copyright © 2011
Angus Productions Inc.

Consumers Have High Expectations

Panel shares current consumer trends and what that means for future demand for beef.
by Miranda Reiman for Certified Angus Beef LLC and Angus Productions Inc.

Back to the Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA

DENVER, Colo. (Feb. 2, 2011) — The Cattlemen’s College “Trends and Trendsetters” session didn’t feature crystal balls or palm readers, just experts from various sectors in the beef business.


Consumers are going back to the basics. They want high quality, a personal connection, choices, value and their own way. That’s according to Kim Essex, senior vice president for consumer marketing at NCBA.

“Woe to the company who can’t deliver what we want, when we want it,” she said. “It’s very important in the beef industry that we don’t fall into a commodity mind-set.”

The retailer, restaurateurs and packer represented said their success was a direct reflection of serving customers’ needs.

Art Wagner, vice president of cattle procurement for National Beef, said that business model has led them to carry a variety of branded programs, including the Certified Angus Beef® (CAB®) brand.

“We recognize the value of the brand,” he said. “It helps us to differentiate ourselves to our customers — meet their needs.”

Jeff Spotz

"A Choice steak doesn't always eat the same," said Jeff Spotz, vice president of meats, commodities and risk management for Darden.

Longhorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Red Lobster and Olive Garden — all owned by Darden Restaurants Inc. — also try to stand out on the basis of atmosphere, quality and value. Jeff Spotz, vice president of meats, commodities and risk management for Darden, said customers expect a selection of quality steaks, perfectly seasoned and expertly grilled.

“A Choice steak doesn’t always eat the same,” he said. “If we find a way to deliver the same eating experience the whole time that would be a huge competitive advantage.”

Jeff Spotz

At Buehler's Fresh Foods, customers come to the store expecting good beef every time, said Dave Savidge, director of meat merchandising.

At Buehler’s Fresh Foods, a CAB-licensed retail chain based in Wooster, Ohio, customers come to the store expecting good beef every time.

“Buehler’s success is hinged on quality,” said Dave Savidge, director of meat merchandising. He shared the company’s latest move to feature CAB Prime Natural.

“Customers are willing to pay more for that,” he said. “As that grows, who is going to supply that food chain? I think it’s a trend worth considering.”

Savidge expects premium grinds to make a big portion of their growth, noting that half of the chain’s CAB Prime Natural sales last year were grinds.

Tom Ryan, founder of Smashburger, is capitalizing on Americans’ preference for a better burger.

“That category is going to grow at 10%, and our goal is to lead that pack and set a new standard,” he said. The CAB-licensed chain started three years ago and rivals many of the fastest growing ones, like McDonalds.

“There is something really magic about CAB and our flat grill,” Ryan said, describing the process of putting the burger on a hot grill, covering it with parchment paper and smashing it.

About 55% of their diners come for lunch and 45% for supper, which is unusual for their type of restaurant, he said. Typically, lunch makes up a larger majority of the business.

“Smashburger and others like us are putting burgers back in people’s lives,” Ryan said. 





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