Dolezal, Stika: Better Measures Lead to Better Beef, Red Meat Yield Next Opportunity
Pumped product and mechanical tenderization — most associate these “enhancement” methods with pork or poultry; but not that long ago, the beef industry was exploring these options to improve product quality.
“Back in the ’80s, everybody was working on restructured beef and aspects like that to upgrade low quality, and then it just didn’t come to fruition because people still wanted a great steak and a great taste,” says Glen Dolezal, assistant vice president, new technology applications.
He joined John Stika, president of Certified Angus Beef, on a recent episode of The Angus Conversation to talk about technologies that never came to fruition, others that changed the industry and what still lies ahead.
“I think the big revolution that’s taken place here through relationships across the supply and merchandising chain has been, ‘We have a great product. Here’s what the consumer wants. Now, let’s inherently breed and manage the quality into the cattle, meet their genetic propensity to please the consumer,’” says Stika.
Producers just needed a target, he says.
“When economic signals aren’t clear, you go a lot of different directions. You scatter,” Stika says, noting the improvement from the demand lows in 1998. “You look at where we are today, the economic signals have become clearer and clearer every year that we’ve moved forward, and I think that’s why we’ve seen this centralized focus on quality … and consumer demand because grid marketing and camera data collection has really allowed that information to be captured in volume and go back through the system to create a clear economic signal.”
While cattlemen should still place focus on marbling, Sitka said, the packing sector is considering ways to better quantify saleable red meat. The yield grade equation was developed in the 1960s, and marketing has since evolved.
“We don’t sell subprimals with a half an inch or three-quarters of an inch of fat anymore. We are predominantly boneless,” Doelzal says. “We need to pick up more than just the round loin rib and chuck because the thin meats and the brisket, all the cuts of beef are important and valuable today.”
Lean trim for luncheon meats and pizza toppings isn’t accounted for either.
“I think the industry needs to reinvest in a greater number of carcasses being tested to develop a modern red meat yield determination to improve our yield grade system today.”
Listen to the entire episode, “The Packer or the Producer—Who Has the Power to Improve Beef Quality?” on all major podcast platforms, or follow this LINK.
Editor’s note: This episode is sponsored by Westway Feed Products.