The past two weeks have flat out flown by. I promised to share the results of our board’s priority setting meeting a couple of weeks ago, and I apologize I’m just now getting that done. We have twelve budget categories that deal with education, promotion and research. We gave each board member six stick-on dots and wrote the title of each category, along with examples of things we do under each, and told them to place their six dots anywhere they wanted. They could put all six dots on one category if they wanted or divide them up as they saw fit. Here are the big winners: Research, retail promotions, health professional education and consumer education.
Research ranked highest. The board members said that sound research should be the foundation for what we do whether it’s consumer research, food safety or product improvement based studies. Our research committee will meet soon to discuss this further. Our current priorities in research revolve around pathogen detection and elimination (food safety), tenderness detection (in carcass and cuts prior to consumption), pre-harvest carcass improvers such as feeds, cattle handling and genetics, and advertising research (consumer information).
Retail promotion and health professional education were tied for second. Fifty percent of all the beef sold in the United States is sold through grocery stores (retail). Educating meat department staff about best methods of cutting, displaying and promoting beef are a big part of what we do in this category. Health professionals such as dieticians, nutritionists, and doctors have a lot of influence on what people include in their diets. They need up-to-date information about beef’s nutrient profiles and the importance of the nutrients found in beef. I’m pleased that health professionals are recognizing that on average, most American adults aren’t consuming enough protein to prevent problems such as sarcopenia (loss of muscle tissue that correlates with getting older). Our research shows that consumption of beef protein results in immediate muscle synthesis and aids in repairing and rebuilding muscle. Makes sense to me: muscle is protein!
Consumer education involves more than just telling them “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.” We help them learn how to prepare beef, which cuts are “lean” according to the USDA (there are 29 of them!) and how zinc, iron and protein provide their bodies with the nourishment their bodies need. Consumers crave new beef recipes and we are proud to provide them as part of our consumer education efforts.
While other categories such as producer communication, industry information, foodservice promotions and advertising were all deemed important as well, they didn’t get prioritized as high as the previous four. Our board takes their job very seriously as they give your MBIC staff direction such as this. Sometimes the discussion turns to cordial debate, but in the end you can rest assured that the beef producers charged with making the decisions, are trying hard to spend the checkoff dollar in ways that maximize the demand for beef!