Celebration-worthy beef


ONAGA, Kan. – Do you have a deepfreeze full of beef? That’s why beef marketing campaigns are not directed at you.

You raise it, you likely eat it more than most, but you are not the ones foodservice professionals and retailers are trying to convince to reach for your wallet.

Chances are, you’ll eat beef regardless of what they’re doing in New York City or Austin or San Francisco. “Foodie” trends are not your thing.

Many reading this column live on a country road, miles and miles from their closest grocery store or steakhouse. Many of you stop at a retail meat counter far less often than you see your preacher, but you have staple beef entrees you enjoy at home.

I’m not judging. That’s me, too.

But I think it’s important to remember, there’s a big world out there, and people a little further down the supply chain make a living as ambassadors for your product.

Every so often, I get to spend some time with the crowd we are trying touch so they can better reach the consumer. I get to watch their first reaction to new (sometimes pretty “out there”) ideas, and I see them as jazzed up about selling this product as we are about creating it.

Recently, I was at conference where they were discussing everything from the business of selling beef (best practices for aging, pricing considerations) to the creativity of it (new fabrication methods and cooking techniques). It was part data and facts, part artistry and intuition. It was really fun to watch.

In the past year, I’ve seen chefs doing things with beef that I never could have imagined: roasting an entire side of beef on the beach, bringing a cocktail smoker tableside to deliver a chuck roll and grilled cheese sandwich that comes out with a cloud of mystique. 

It’s fun to see beef marketers in action. Their energy and enthusiasm is inspiring, but it really drives home a central point for me: What we do in the beef community is special. 

I don’t see people that motivated to create and imagine with chicken. It’s just a hunch, but I think most chefs are far more excited to see calving season on the ranch than where most other food begins. 

I find that a bit of a distinctive burden, too. 

We can’t expect a premium and then show up at the table as simply a chicken alternative. Especially not when we are three times the price of poultry and twice as expensive as pork. On the other hand, we can’t cut corners and costs as if grade doesn’t matter because that road won’t take you to a market that pays for your business or way of life. 

We must be able to deliver on this idea that what we deliver is celebration-worthy, every night of the week. It’s for the “ooohs” and “ahhhs” and “wows.”

That’s on you. It starts with the decisions you make at the ranch level to make it happen.

The marketing teams will take it from there.


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