Brand Update 2019: Year in Review

A global community from gate to plate that is focused on quality propels the Certified Angus Beef ® brand’s success. View our 2019 Brand Update for an overview of the people, initiatives and relationships that fueled a 15th consecutive year of growth and the fulfillment of our mission since 1978: to create demand and add value for Angus cattle, and support the family farmers and ranchers who raise it.

A global community from gate to plate that is focused on quality propels the Certified Angus Beef ® brand’s success. View our 2019 Brand Update for an overview of the people, initiatives and relationships that fueled a 15th consecutive year of growth and the fulfillment of our mission since 1978: to create demand and add value for Angus cattle, and support the family farmers and ranchers who raise it.


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CertifiedAngusBeef.com<br />

Volume 23 Issue 1<br />

A global community propels the brand’s success

BRAND UPDATE <strong>2019</strong><br />

Manag<strong>in</strong>g Editor: Jennifer Schertz<br />

Senior Editor: Steve Suther<br />

Art Director: David Barry<br />

Designer: T<strong>in</strong>a Melicant<br />

Circulation Manager: Beth Barner<br />

Contribut<strong>in</strong>g Writers: Courtney Middleton,<br />

Miranda Reiman<br />

President: John F. Stika, Ph.D.<br />

Senior Executive Vice President: Brent Eichar<br />

Executive Vice Presidents: Tracey Erickson,<br />

David MacVane, Mark Polzer, Steve R<strong>in</strong>gle<br />

<strong>2019</strong>-20 Board of Directors:<br />

John F. Grimes, Chairman, Hillsboro, Ohio<br />

James W. Henderson, Childress, Texas<br />

Dave H<strong>in</strong>man*, Malta, Montana<br />

Mike McCravy, Bowdon, Georgia<br />

Allan Miller*, Gridley, Ill<strong>in</strong>ois<br />

Dwight “Kip” Palmer, Rochester, New York<br />

Jonathan Perry, Fayetteville, Tennessee<br />

Mark McCully, Vice Chairman,<br />

CEO American Angus Association ® ,<br />

St. Joseph, Missouri<br />

John Stika, President, Certified Angus<br />

Beef LLC, Wooster, Ohio<br />

Brent Eichar, Secretary Treasurer, Certified<br />

Angus Beef LLC, Wooster, Ohio<br />

* New board member<br />

Board Members through<br />

November <strong>2019</strong>:<br />

Jerry Connealy, Chairman,<br />

Whitman, Nebraska<br />

Mick Varilek, Geddes, South Dakota<br />

Published by:<br />

American Angus Association ®<br />

c/o Certified Angus Beef LLC<br />

206 Riffel Road<br />

Wooster, OH 44691-8588 USA<br />

Phone: 330-345-2333<br />

Fax: 330-345-0808<br />

CertifiedAngusBeef.com<br />

The Certified Angus Beef ® brand name<br />

and marks are service/trademarks of<br />

Certified Angus Beef LLC.<br />

© <strong>2019</strong> Volume 23, Issue 1,<br />

published annually. All rights reserved.<br />

Cover Photo:<br />

A global community of partners from gate<br />

to plate propels the Certified Angus Beef ®<br />

brand’s success, help<strong>in</strong>g provide a more susta<strong>in</strong>able<br />

future for all.<br />

Classic London Broil


A brand—any brand, or<br />

our brand <strong>in</strong> particular—is<br />

a promise. For starters, it<br />

represents a set of specific<br />

product attributes, like<br />

size, texture or flavor. It’s<br />

also a k<strong>in</strong>d of shorthand<br />

represent<strong>in</strong>g a consistent<br />

level of quality. As such, a<br />

brand also becomes tied<br />

to reputation. People seek<br />

out their preferred brands<br />

because they know they<br />

represent a good experience<br />

and count on them to deliver<br />

positively on the price-tovalue<br />

ratio.<br />

The best brands can also<br />

build relationships. Loyal<br />

customers not only recognize<br />

their favorite brands and<br />

regularly purchase them, but<br />

feel a sense of familiarity or even a k<strong>in</strong>d of friendship with them. The brand feels<br />

“right.” It feels, <strong>in</strong> a sense, like home. And while that feel<strong>in</strong>g may take different forms<br />

depend<strong>in</strong>g on the environment, the aff<strong>in</strong>ity is universal at its core.<br />

S<strong>in</strong>ce the Certified Angus Beef ® brand’s start, the global community of those who<br />

br<strong>in</strong>g it to the table have cultivated and cont<strong>in</strong>ue to elevate all these markers of its<br />

equity. They have made the brand the standard-bearer of the better beef movement.<br />



GROWTH P. 7<br />

A SEAT AT<br />

THE TABLE P.11<br />


OF THE BRAND P. 17<br />


ADDS VALUE P. 21<br />

TRADING UP P. 27<br />

IT’S PERSONAL P. 33<br />




BIG STAGE P. 41<br />





CATTLEMEN P. 49<br />

It starts at the ranch, where farmers and feeders have, for many years, placed a focus<br />

on quality <strong>in</strong> the way they breed, raise and care for their cattle. That focus, and those<br />

values, rema<strong>in</strong> unbroken through the cha<strong>in</strong> br<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g the brand to the table, from<br />

processors, to distributors, to restaurants and chefs or retailers and butchers.<br />

It’s an entire community, work<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>dividually and collectively, to not only deliver<br />

on the brand’s mission to <strong>in</strong>crease demand for registered Angus cattle, but give<br />

consumers <strong>in</strong> 51 countries a brand they trust, value and crave. At the same time, the<br />

brand has become a key component of its partners’ own successes.<br />

S<strong>in</strong>ce 1978, the Certified Angus Beef ® brand, which not only pioneered the concept of<br />

branded beef but empowered an entire <strong>in</strong>dustry along the way, has created countless<br />

relationships from gate to plate. These relationships comprise our brand story. They<br />

are, <strong>in</strong> fact, our brand—one that starts with a quality product and goes much, much<br />

further. They are what’s built the brand we’re all part of today.<br />

Thank you for your cont<strong>in</strong>ued commitment and leadership. We’re grateful for all the<br />

ways you embrace the brand, and for allow<strong>in</strong>g us to be a part of your success. As we<br />

consider the potential to further advance your bus<strong>in</strong>ess and our mission together <strong>in</strong><br />

the com<strong>in</strong>g year, know that our team is excited to cont<strong>in</strong>ue support<strong>in</strong>g your efforts.<br />

MacVane, Mark Polzer,<br />

President John F. Stika, Ph.D.<br />

The Certified Angus Beef ® brand is<br />

the orig<strong>in</strong>al Angus brand, founded<br />

<strong>in</strong> 1978 by Angus cattlemen. Our<br />

mission has rema<strong>in</strong>ed the same s<strong>in</strong>ce<br />

day one: To <strong>in</strong>crease demand for<br />

registered Angus cattle through a<br />

specification-based branded beef<br />

program to identify consistent, high<br />

quality beef with superior taste.<br />

Our strategies:<br />

• Maximize brand <strong>in</strong>tegrity<br />

• Provide unparalleled customer service<br />

• Grow brand awareness<br />

• Innovate with new products<br />

• Increase brand sales with licensed<br />



There’s no other way to put it. Mother Nature<br />

has made it challeng<strong>in</strong>g this year, from a<br />

severe w<strong>in</strong>ter to extremely wet spr<strong>in</strong>g with<br />

both floods and blizzards. Cattlemen have<br />

been sell<strong>in</strong>g fewer calves, at prices that are not<br />

as good as they have been, and yet the mood<br />

<strong>in</strong> cattle country is hopeful.<br />

There’s always light at the end of the tunnel.<br />

We know averages usually play out pretty<br />

true, and historically we’ve seen that when<br />

cattlemen rebuild herds, they reload with<br />

better genetics. I th<strong>in</strong>k we’ll see an even higher<br />

marbl<strong>in</strong>g herd, set up for more profitability<br />

down the road.<br />

I’ve been impressed with what my fellow<br />

cattlemen have done, rais<strong>in</strong>g a record supply<br />

of the Certified Angus Beef ® brand, but I’m<br />

equally impressed by those who market the<br />

product. I want to send out a huge thank you<br />

for all you do.<br />

As cattlemen, we really do take a huge amount of pride <strong>in</strong> what we’re do<strong>in</strong>g, and <strong>in</strong> see<strong>in</strong>g the Certified Angus<br />

Beef ® brand logo anywhere—on a menu, on a truck driv<strong>in</strong>g down the highway, or <strong>in</strong> a grocery store—there is a<br />

surge of pride <strong>in</strong> know<strong>in</strong>g we are produc<strong>in</strong>g the best, and you’re then tak<strong>in</strong>g that to market.<br />

The economic signals you send all the way back down the cha<strong>in</strong> say we need more high-quality, high-marbl<strong>in</strong>g<br />

product that qualifies for the brand. That makes my life and my family’s life a whole lot easier. We’re able to<br />

sell high-quality Angus bulls at a premium, and our customers can do the same with their calves. Keep send<strong>in</strong>g<br />

that signal to us, and we’ll make more of the product you need.<br />

Look<strong>in</strong>g ahead, I’m excited for the growth of the brand, both domestically and <strong>in</strong>ternationally. There are a<br />

lot of possibilities as we expose people <strong>in</strong> different countries to the brand and give them the opportunity to<br />

experience what we’ve experienced here <strong>in</strong> the States.<br />

As I write this, I’m select<strong>in</strong>g bulls with an eye on better position<strong>in</strong>g my herd and the Angus breed. I’m th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g<br />

about the future and, ultimately, I’m excited to produce more cattle that meet the brand’s standards down the<br />

road. I’m thankful to be part of this team effort.<br />

Respectfully,<br />

Jerry Connealy<br />

Whitman, Neb.<br />

Chairman, 2018-19 Certified Angus Beef LLC Board of Directors

<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 5

Total sales: 1.25 billion lbs. (up 3.1%)<br />

13th consecutive record year<br />

<strong>Year</strong>-over-year growth s<strong>in</strong>ce 2004<br />

FISCAL <strong>2019</strong> SALES BY DIVISION<br />

8.8 %<br />

537.5 MILLION LBS. 4.6 %<br />

424 MILLION LBS. .2 %<br />

207.5 MILLION LBS. 23.2 %<br />

RETAIL<br />



MISC*<br />

81 MILLION LBS.<br />

*cannot be assigned to a specific division<br />

FISCAL <strong>2019</strong> SALES BY PRODUCT CATEGORY<br />

3.4 %<br />

760 MILLION LBS. 4.2 %<br />

275 MILLION LBS. .9 %<br />

215 MILLION LBS. 14.7 %<br />





33.5 MILLION LBS.<br />


2015<br />

2016<br />

2017<br />

2018<br />

<strong>2019</strong><br />

12.7 M<br />

13.6 M<br />

15.2 M<br />

15.9 M<br />

16.2 M<br />


2015<br />

2016<br />

2017<br />

2018<br />

<strong>2019</strong><br />

3.5 M<br />

3.9 M<br />

4.5 M<br />

5.2 M<br />

5.7 M<br />

®<br />


2015<br />

2016<br />

2017<br />

2018<br />

<strong>2019</strong><br />

27.5 %<br />

28.9 %<br />

29.7 %<br />

32.5 %<br />

35.0 %



CGlobal network of brand partners achieve 13th consecutive year of record sales<br />

For a mature brand, sales growth, particularly over several consecutive years, is far from guaranteed.<br />

Sure, hav<strong>in</strong>g a high quality product helps. But susta<strong>in</strong>ed success takes <strong>in</strong>tention, a focus on shared<br />

goals, and commitment from the entire community beh<strong>in</strong>d the brand, said John Stika, president of<br />

Certified Angus Beef LLC.<br />

It’s a recipe for achievement that succeeded once aga<strong>in</strong> for the Certified Angus Beef ® brand <strong>in</strong> fiscal<br />

<strong>2019</strong>. For the 13th year <strong>in</strong> a row, the brand saw record global sales. It was also the 15th consecutive<br />

year of sales growth.<br />

The brand’s global network of nearly 19,000 licensed processor, foodservice and retail partners<br />

marketed 1.25 billion pounds of product, a 3.1% <strong>in</strong>crease—or an additional 38 million pounds—over<br />

the previous year.<br />

It starts, Stika said, with “an entire community of Angus farmers, ranchers and feeders be<strong>in</strong>g extremely<br />

<strong>in</strong>tentional over several years <strong>in</strong> the way they breed, raise and care for their cattle with a focus on quality.”<br />

But, Stika added, all those from farm to plate who br<strong>in</strong>g product to consumers must be credited as well.<br />

“It takes a great number of people fill<strong>in</strong>g different yet connected roles,” he noted. “Fortunately, there is a<br />

lot of room at the brand’s table, where <strong>in</strong>tegrity, a passion for quality and a desire to lead are shared by<br />

everyone who pulls up a chair.”<br />

<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 7



Records were set <strong>in</strong> all but 3 months of fiscal <strong>2019</strong>; 6<br />

months ranked among the top 10 sales months <strong>in</strong> the<br />

brand’s 41-year history. Powered by strong consumer<br />

demand and relatively steady market prices, sales records<br />

spanned product categories.<br />

Sales of premium steaks (middle meats), a perennial eng<strong>in</strong>e,<br />

grew by 4.2%. End meats were up 3.4%, and ground beef<br />

sales, boosted by the better burger movement, grew by 2<br />

million pounds.<br />

Historically high availability of the most highly marbled<br />

product propelled sales of the Certified Angus Beef ® brand<br />

Prime product extension by 36.6%. Once marketed almost<br />

exclusively by foodservice partners, retailers from coast to<br />

coast took advantage of the opportunity to enhance their<br />

offer<strong>in</strong>gs and appeal to their most discern<strong>in</strong>g customers. (See<br />

related story, Page 27.) Consumer choice also drove sales<br />

of the brand’s Natural product l<strong>in</strong>e, raised on a completely<br />

vegetarian diet with no added hormones or antibiotics.<br />


Global sales outside U.S. borders reached an all-time high of<br />

207.5 million pounds, demonstrat<strong>in</strong>g the universal appeal<br />

of top-quality beef among diverse cultures and markets.<br />

Lead<strong>in</strong>g the way <strong>in</strong> growth was Japan, followed by Taiwan,<br />

Colombia and the Dom<strong>in</strong>ican Republic.<br />



The family farmers and ranchers at the heart of the Certified<br />

Angus Beef ® brand cont<strong>in</strong>ued to build on a years-long focus<br />

on quality, rais<strong>in</strong>g more cattle that met the brand’s 10<br />

exact<strong>in</strong>g standards. The rate of Angus cattle eligible to earn<br />

the brand rose to a record 35%, a collective improvement<br />

that translated <strong>in</strong>to <strong>in</strong>creased supply of 470,000 head.<br />

“That <strong>in</strong>crease is significant because it doesn’t happen by<br />

random chance,” said Stika. “It represents an entire community<br />

focused on quality, which came about directly through the<br />

economic signals generated by the additional demand for the<br />

Certified Angus Beef ® brand among consumers.”<br />

To put that trend <strong>in</strong> context, Stika noted that s<strong>in</strong>ce 1998,<br />

when beef demand was at an all-time low, the entire beef<br />

<strong>in</strong>dustry has experienced a $60 billion <strong>in</strong>crease <strong>in</strong> annual<br />

consumer expenditures.<br />

“Quality improved, and demand followed suit,” he<br />

expla<strong>in</strong>ed. “Certified Angus Beef ® brand, through the efforts<br />

of its partners, has been a mean<strong>in</strong>gful part of that success.<br />

Through their commitment, they’ve helped direct the entire<br />

<strong>in</strong>dustry, draw<strong>in</strong>g it closer to the consumer. As they do so,<br />

they’re provid<strong>in</strong>g a more susta<strong>in</strong>able future for all.”<br />

Represent<strong>in</strong>g 43% of total brand sales, the retail division<br />

grew for the fourth consecutive year: up 8.8% to achieve an<br />

all-time record of 537.5 million pounds. In addition to Prime<br />

product driv<strong>in</strong>g sales, retailers <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>gly chose to feature<br />

the brand rather than a lower-priced prote<strong>in</strong> option on the<br />

front page of their circulars. Creative seasonal promotions<br />

focus<strong>in</strong>g on summer grill<strong>in</strong>g, tailgat<strong>in</strong>g and holiday roast<strong>in</strong>g<br />

also captured consumers’ attention.<br />

Mark<strong>in</strong>g a decade of cont<strong>in</strong>uous, consistent growth was<br />

the foodservice division, which achieved a 4.6% <strong>in</strong>crease.<br />

Upscale f<strong>in</strong>e d<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g and steakhouse bus<strong>in</strong>ess, along with the<br />

gourmet burger and barbecue categories, drove this growth.<br />

Led largely by the efforts of licensed distributors, restaurants<br />

that actively promoted the brand on their menus <strong>in</strong>creased<br />

sales by an average 10% over the previous year.<br />

Also for the 10th consecutive year, sales of branded valueadded<br />

products set a new record, exceed<strong>in</strong>g 33 million<br />

pounds. The jump was driven by processors respond<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

<strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>g consumer demand for high-quality convenience<br />

items. Eighteen of 21 product categories experienced<br />

growth, led by foodservice accounts purchas<strong>in</strong>g mar<strong>in</strong>ated<br />

th<strong>in</strong> meats and smoked brisket, while retailers drove sales of<br />

mar<strong>in</strong>ated end meats.

Walter Angus, Hudson, Colo.<br />

<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 9

The Hadrick family, Faulkton, S.D.<br />

Jonathan Perry is at home <strong>in</strong> two parts of<br />

the beef community: at Deer Valley Farms<br />

<strong>in</strong> Fayetteville, Tenn., and at Hickory House<br />

Restaurant, Pulaski, Tenn.<br />


The American Barn<br />

A new book, “Shelter<strong>in</strong>g Generations – the American Barn,” celebrates the <strong>in</strong>tegral role barns play <strong>in</strong> rural America, and the families whose lives are<br />

centered there. One hundred percent of book sales benefit the brand’s new Rural Relief Fund, provid<strong>in</strong>g aid to rural communities <strong>in</strong> times of natural disaster.


AFrom the ranch to the table, the brand br<strong>in</strong>gs together many communities<br />

It was an April blizzard, not long after clean<strong>in</strong>g up from the last one, which struck South Dakota with<br />

the force of a Category 2 hurricane. When rancher Troy Hadrick described the challenge of car<strong>in</strong>g for his<br />

cows and their calves born dur<strong>in</strong>g that storm, his voice wavered and eyes welled up with tears. Between<br />

the stress on his cattle and the stress on his wife and three teenagers, it was an emotionally and physically<br />

exhaust<strong>in</strong>g experience.<br />

Even six months later, the feel<strong>in</strong>gs were raw.<br />

“It was a tough w<strong>in</strong>ter, but I tell you what, those kids never quit and my wife never quit. We didn’t save<br />

them all, but we did pretty good,” he recalled. “You’ve got this unwritten, unspoken contract with your<br />

cows, that you’ll take care of them. In turn, they’ll take care of you. And we did the best we could.”<br />

Hadrick shared those struggles and emotions with a cross section of brand partners, and there wasn’t a dry<br />

eye <strong>in</strong> sight. Salespersons, restaurateurs, retailers: they bowed their heads or grabbed a handkerchief with<br />

deep respect for the grit and love it takes to raise Angus cattle, no matter what hand Mother Nature deals.<br />

Meanwhile, Hadrick’s fellow ranchers nodded <strong>in</strong> empathy, as they remembered their own hardships over the<br />

years: the fires, floods, tornadoes and droughts. The list cont<strong>in</strong>ues. But it’s not just these difficulties that br<strong>in</strong>g<br />

ranch<strong>in</strong>g families together. It’s their traditions, values and passion that hold them close despite the miles of<br />

roll<strong>in</strong>g hills, green pastures, mounta<strong>in</strong> ranges, prairies or deserts that separate their homesteads.<br />

While help<strong>in</strong>g write a new coffee table book, “Shelter<strong>in</strong>g Generations—The American Barn,” Miranda<br />

Reiman, the brand’s director of producer communications, witnessed the ranch<strong>in</strong>g community’s<br />

neighborly love and similarities firsthand.<br />

“Br<strong>in</strong>g<strong>in</strong>g all their stories together <strong>in</strong> one book highlights the diversity of families who raise cattle <strong>in</strong> varied<br />

environments and bus<strong>in</strong>ess climates,” she says. “Yet, it showed the way they’re all the same: they believe<br />

<strong>in</strong> this brand.”<br />

The book specifically features the 40 families who were a part of the brand’s 40th anniversary <strong>Brand</strong> the<br />

Barn logo-pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>g journey. Like Hadrick, most of this group also attended Annual Conference, where they<br />

<strong>in</strong>term<strong>in</strong>gled with attendees. That let those new to the beef community learn about the people responsible<br />

for the product they sell or cook.<br />

The ranchers’ appearance, along with Hadrick’s presentation, <strong>in</strong>spired members across the brand<br />

community to purchase the book; 100% of sales benefit the brand’s new Rural Relief Fund, established to<br />

aid farm and ranch communities when disaster strikes.<br />

“Though we all try to help each other when we can, you can’t always make it to a neighbor’s place dur<strong>in</strong>g<br />

a blizzard. But, we can help them <strong>in</strong> the aftermath, and I th<strong>in</strong>k that’s what the Rural Relief Fund can do.<br />

It’s another way for us to come together to help our neighbors and friends,” Hadrick shared.<br />

Whether it’s at brand events, <strong>in</strong>dustry events like the Angus or National Cattlemen’s Beef Association<br />

conventions, bull sales or cattle shows, they are sure to run <strong>in</strong>to a friendly face, a familiar handshake and<br />

a question about how the family, and cattle, are do<strong>in</strong>g back home.<br />

This dedicated group of people backs the Certified Angus Beef ® brand and supplies the very best Angus beef<br />

<strong>in</strong> the world while also work<strong>in</strong>g together to ensure the land and resources are <strong>in</strong> good shape for future<br />

generations. Without them, there’d be no guarantee of beef to sell or eat, no beautiful barns to admire <strong>in</strong><br />

the glow of a sunset, and no guarantee this special way of life could be possible for their children.<br />

<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 11


While the bond among Angus farmers and ranchers is special,<br />

it’s not the only one facilitated by be<strong>in</strong>g a part of the larger<br />

brand community. At each l<strong>in</strong>k <strong>in</strong> the cha<strong>in</strong>, relationships<br />

have taken root and camaraderie, collaboration, support and<br />

mutual success have blossomed as a result.<br />

It’s easy to list each subdivision of the brand, start<strong>in</strong>g from<br />

the beg<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>g with the ranchers who established it more than<br />

40 years ago. But these groups of people are connected <strong>in</strong><br />

more ways than one.<br />

With a welcom<strong>in</strong>g gesture, they grab a chair and take a seat at<br />

the brand table—sandwiched between a meat scientist and a<br />

grocer, cl<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g glasses with the chef across the way. The table<br />

has def<strong>in</strong>itely grown to fit all those who jo<strong>in</strong>, but it hasn’t<br />

really changed.<br />

The people surround<strong>in</strong>g it still bow their heads before they<br />

eat, pray<strong>in</strong>g for their family and community. They hope<br />

for ra<strong>in</strong> or <strong>in</strong>creased market prices or sales, however they<br />

measure success. They do their life’s work with honor and<br />

focus. They still thrive <strong>in</strong> the others’ presence, shar<strong>in</strong>g ideas<br />

and support. When they hear the call, they’re quick to extend<br />

a help<strong>in</strong>g hand. And, they’re always ready to pull up a chair<br />

for someone new.<br />

They do this because the Certified Angus Beef ® brand is more<br />

than a name or a logo. It’s a family with a mission to engage<br />

and serve with passion and <strong>in</strong>tegrity. These stories are just a<br />

few examples.<br />


At The Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Center, <strong>in</strong> meat labs across the country,<br />

and <strong>in</strong> conference rooms <strong>in</strong> build<strong>in</strong>gs of all shapes and sizes<br />

one group you’ll f<strong>in</strong>d is <strong>in</strong>dependent meat company leaders<br />

and salespersons enjoy<strong>in</strong>g the company of their peers and<br />

discuss<strong>in</strong>g how they can help <strong>in</strong>crease sales, which <strong>in</strong> turn<br />

drives demand for the beef ranchers produce.<br />

They are just as passionate about help<strong>in</strong>g one another as they<br />

are about fill<strong>in</strong>g plates with top-quality steaks, roasts and<br />

burgers. That’s why they take every opportunity available to<br />

work together for a cause much greater than themselves.<br />

The camaraderie among this group was evident <strong>in</strong> 2017, when<br />

a group of 16 companies pooled funds to donate $65,000 to<br />

a relief fund for ranchers <strong>in</strong> Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and<br />

Colorado who lost farms and livestock <strong>in</strong> devastat<strong>in</strong>g prairie<br />

fires. It’s just one example of how the group is <strong>in</strong>vested <strong>in</strong><br />

others’ success, from the farm to the streets.<br />

Duncan Macgregor Jr., president of Macgregor’s Meat<br />

and Seafood <strong>in</strong> Toronto, credits the group for its help as<br />

the 70-year-old company worked to re-establish a dryag<strong>in</strong>g<br />

program.<br />

“We hadn’t dry-aged s<strong>in</strong>ce the late ’50s, and I th<strong>in</strong>k my<br />

father probably thought we were a little bit nuts go<strong>in</strong>g back<br />

to it,” Macgregor said, add<strong>in</strong>g he believed the time was<br />

right. It would both elevate and differentiate the bus<strong>in</strong>ess<br />

<strong>in</strong> today’s market.<br />

“We reached out to other <strong>in</strong>dependents <strong>in</strong> the Certified Angus Beef ®<br />

brand community, and I’m very thankful we had some tremendous<br />

help from some of those partners with<strong>in</strong> the brand. We couldn’t<br />

have gotten to where we are today, even though it’s on a small<br />

scale, without their help,” Macgregor noted.<br />

Each <strong>in</strong>dependent’s bus<strong>in</strong>ess, opportunities and challenges<br />

may be unique, but the goodwill makes their similarities<br />

much more relevant. Whether it’s programs at The Cul<strong>in</strong>ary<br />

Center or the annual <strong>in</strong>dependents’ gather<strong>in</strong>g hosted by<br />

one of the group’s members, it’s an opportunity to learn<br />

and share ideas.<br />

You may also f<strong>in</strong>d them on a ranch, slid<strong>in</strong>g feed through<br />

their hands for the first time, tak<strong>in</strong>g selfies with a<br />

nearby heifer or shak<strong>in</strong>g hands with the young cowboy<br />

who hopes to be just like his dad when he grows up.<br />

Their <strong>in</strong>terest <strong>in</strong> the <strong>in</strong>dustry goes far beyond their office<br />

walls, and that, <strong>in</strong> turn, helps l<strong>in</strong>k the pieces and parts<br />

of beef’s journey together.<br />


With<strong>in</strong> the cul<strong>in</strong>ary world, there’s a particular group that’s<br />

truly a society unto itself. Members of the fun-lov<strong>in</strong>g barbecue<br />

community spend a lot of time fill<strong>in</strong>g smokers and slic<strong>in</strong>g big<br />

hunks of beef. While it draws from all walks of cul<strong>in</strong>ary life—<br />

from classically tra<strong>in</strong>ed chefs to award-w<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>g competitors<br />

to self-taught fans who’ve pulled up their own seat at the<br />

table—its shared passion for low-and-slow-cooked ’cue holds<br />

the collection together.<br />

“The barbecue community has a ‘no secrets, we’re all <strong>in</strong> this<br />

together’ m<strong>in</strong>dset,” says Michael Ollier, senior corporate chef<br />

for the Certified Angus Beef ® brand and certified barbecue<br />

judge. “These folks make you feel welcome no matter where<br />

you come from <strong>in</strong> the barbecue circuit. The genu<strong>in</strong>e nature of<br />

these folks is right <strong>in</strong> l<strong>in</strong>e with our brand.”<br />

The community’s welcom<strong>in</strong>g nature shone bright dur<strong>in</strong>g the brand’s<br />

BBQ Summit, which gathers many of the nation’s best pitmasters<br />

<strong>in</strong> Wooster, Ohio, for a few days of collaboration, fabrication and<br />

education—plus plenty of fun and great eats, of course.<br />

The barbecue community also comes together for <strong>in</strong>itiatives<br />

like Operation BBQ Relief. The relief fund started after the<br />

2011 Jopl<strong>in</strong>, Mo., tornado and rema<strong>in</strong>s dedicated to provid<strong>in</strong>g<br />

meals to emergency personnel and those displaced dur<strong>in</strong>g<br />

times of natural disasters. It’s backed by a large number of

There’s plenty of room at the brand’s table, which welcomes and connects all from gate to plate who pull up a seat.<br />


<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 13

volunteers, most of whom are military veterans or retired first<br />

responders who share a love of barbecue.<br />

The organization’s efforts have found a soft spot <strong>in</strong> Ollier’s<br />

heart, as he cont<strong>in</strong>ues to engage the brand <strong>in</strong> the effort at a<br />

higher level.<br />

“The volunteers respond to such disasters because they can<br />

roll <strong>in</strong> onsite with a pit and cook for people without electricity,”<br />

he says. “It’s become more formalized over the years, and<br />

served more than 3 million meals across the country.”<br />

Most recently, volunteers have traveled outside of the U.S.<br />

borders to feed those <strong>in</strong> the Bahamas who were harmed or<br />

displaced by Hurricane Dorian.<br />

In addition to these meals at disaster sites (aka deployments),<br />

Operation BBQ Relief began The Always Serv<strong>in</strong>g Project, an<br />

extension of the orig<strong>in</strong>al fund that serves military members<br />

and first responders and fights hunger; the Break<strong>in</strong>g Bread<br />

Tour, to br<strong>in</strong>g awareness to hunger across the country; and<br />

BBQ Basics, where attendees learn how to barbecue.<br />

The barbecue crew’s efforts are proof of what good can come<br />

from jo<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g forces with others, even if they prefer to smoke<br />

meat with a different type of wood or use sauces <strong>in</strong>stead<br />

of rubs. It’s someth<strong>in</strong>g many notice while attend<strong>in</strong>g some<br />

of the best barbecue festivals, like the Jack Daniel’s World<br />

Championship Barbecue Invitational or Memphis <strong>in</strong> May,<br />

where they seek connection and camaraderie.<br />

It’s the spirit that’s evident from one end of the table to the other.<br />

Craig “The BBQ<br />

N<strong>in</strong>ja” Verhage, at the<br />

Jack Daniel’s World<br />

Championship Invitational<br />

Barbecue, is one of many<br />

passionate meatheads <strong>in</strong><br />

the community.<br />

The team from Macgregors Meat and Seafood of Toronto has built relationships with, and<br />

engaged, their fellow licensed <strong>in</strong>dependent meat companies to share ideas that build their bus<strong>in</strong>ess.

Certified Angus Beef ® brand Senior Corporate Chef Michael Ollier, second from left,<br />

hosts Operation BBQ Relief leaders at The Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Center: from left, Nick Woolfolk,<br />

Will Cleaver, and Sonny’s BBQ pitmaster Bryan Mroczka.<br />


<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 15

Above and below left, Sysco staffers visit the farm to learn more about the<br />

beef cattle story, an opportunity facilitated by brand specialists.<br />

<strong>Brand</strong> specialists frequently br<strong>in</strong>g their team and chef customers to the Meat Lab at The<br />

Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Center for hands-on meat science education and fabrication sessions.<br />

A highlight of the annual Foodservice Leaders Summit is the announcement of the Specialist of the <strong>Year</strong>, as well as a gather<strong>in</strong>g of those <strong>in</strong> attendance who<br />

have earned the title <strong>in</strong> the past. The honor recognizes a specialist who goes above and beyond <strong>in</strong> engag<strong>in</strong>g and educat<strong>in</strong>g their team about the brand.



Specialists share their knowledge and passion for premium beef<br />

S<strong>in</strong>ce those days as a l<strong>in</strong>e cook mak<strong>in</strong>g his way up the restaurant ranks, Josh Ennis has loved the Certified<br />

Angus Beef ® brand. Part of it was the quality reputation, of course. But s<strong>in</strong>ce becom<strong>in</strong>g a brand specialist<br />

at Buckhead Meat Atlanta, he’s come to love it for the people beh<strong>in</strong>d it, especially the collection of other<br />

specialists he gets to work with regularly.<br />

“We function as a s<strong>in</strong>gle unit, as a team, and that’s my favorite th<strong>in</strong>g about work<strong>in</strong>g with the brand,”<br />

Ennis shares. “It’s not just one man on the island—we’re all here to help one another.”<br />

Ennis is one of 166 specialists <strong>in</strong> foodservice who take the time to learn about the brand and truly<br />

understand every aspect. They play an <strong>in</strong>tegral role <strong>in</strong> the entire brand community’s success and are a<br />

critical l<strong>in</strong>k <strong>in</strong> the cha<strong>in</strong>.<br />

“Specialists are our eyes and ears <strong>in</strong> the market, whether near or far. They are the reason we are able to ga<strong>in</strong> so<br />

much knowledge,” expla<strong>in</strong>s Gebran Charb<strong>in</strong>e, the brand’s director of <strong>in</strong>ternational and ethnic market<strong>in</strong>g. “Our<br />

job isn’t just to raise demand for high-quality cattle. Our job is to empower these specialists.”<br />

Through extensive tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g, regular communication with the brand’s team and thorough, ongo<strong>in</strong>g<br />

engagement, each specialist acts as a champion of the brand <strong>in</strong> their bus<strong>in</strong>ess. In turn, they help educate<br />

and motivate their companies’ sales teams when engag<strong>in</strong>g with restaurateur and chef customers and<br />

expla<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g the brand’s benefits.<br />

To do that, specialists create their own programs. Ennis, for example, <strong>in</strong>vites customers to Buckhead’s cut<br />

shop and hosts capsulized Master of <strong>Brand</strong> Advantages (MBA) tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g for new hires—all to teach both<br />

groups about the very best Angus beef.<br />

Beyond the focus on product quality and sales, specialists’ efforts promote the brand’s values, community<br />

and relationship build<strong>in</strong>g, too. This year, <strong>in</strong> the same spirit of the community celebrations that took place<br />

at the 40 barn pa<strong>in</strong>t<strong>in</strong>gs last year, Buckhead Atlanta hosted a celebration like a county fair when the<br />

Certified Angus Beef ® brand logo was pa<strong>in</strong>ted on its warehouse. Other events planned by specialists that<br />

both engage the team and help educate them about the brand <strong>in</strong>clude food shows, themed customer<br />

d<strong>in</strong>ners, meat labs and ranch days.<br />

So important is the specialist role, two of them are recognized annually for their dedication and focus<br />

at the brand’s Foodservice Leaders Summit. The awards, New Performer of the <strong>Year</strong> and Specialist of<br />

the <strong>Year</strong>, are symbols of the goals accomplished and sales <strong>in</strong>creased—thanks to the group’s passion for<br />

mov<strong>in</strong>g beef along its gate-to-plate journey.<br />

“The specialist role is a big deal,” says Tom Propps, president of Sysco Columbia <strong>in</strong> South Carol<strong>in</strong>a, proud<br />

coworker of Adam Ballard, the <strong>2019</strong> New Performer of the <strong>Year</strong>.<br />

Ballard, like all who are eligible for the award, has been a brand specialist less than two years, but managed<br />

to make quite an impact <strong>in</strong> that short amount of time.<br />

“Adam loves the Certified Angus Beef ® brand. He loves work<strong>in</strong>g with premium prote<strong>in</strong>s and, most of all, he<br />

loves work<strong>in</strong>g with our customers,” affirms Kris Davis, Sysco Columbia’s director of bus<strong>in</strong>ess resources.<br />

“He’s dedicated to ask<strong>in</strong>g, ‘if you aren’t buy<strong>in</strong>g a Certified Angus Beef ® brand product, why aren’t you?’”<br />

Neil Johnson of Sysco Montana, the <strong>2019</strong> Specialist of the <strong>Year</strong>, was recognized <strong>in</strong> part for his thoughtful<br />

<strong>in</strong>itiatives to keep his team and customers engaged.<br />

<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 17

“His passion exudes out, and it doesn’t just affect himself. His<br />

customers and sales team see his passion, and it makes him<br />

very enjoyable to work with,” says Gale Rhoads, the brand’s<br />

executive account manager <strong>in</strong> the region.<br />

In addition to tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g their sales teams to sell more<br />

Certified Angus Beef ® brand product, specialists ensure their<br />

customers—from restaurants to universities and nurs<strong>in</strong>g<br />

homes—properly represent the brand. Protect<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

brand and its well-known trademarks is important for not<br />

only the brand’s reputation, but also sales opportunities.<br />

Specialists and their teams play a vital role, as a task force<br />

focused on secur<strong>in</strong>g the brand’s reputation.<br />

Each distributor is charged with goals that <strong>in</strong>clude collect<strong>in</strong>g<br />

menus, to ensure the brand trademarks are used correctly<br />

and appropriately, and for work<strong>in</strong>g to resolve discrepancies.<br />

The teams keep track of their issues and progress on the Sales<br />

Tool app, and work closely with the brand’s staff.<br />

Internationally, brand assurance tasks can be a bigger<br />

challenge for specialists, as it is taboo <strong>in</strong> some cultures to<br />

question a bus<strong>in</strong>ess about its practices, <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g ask<strong>in</strong>g a<br />

chef about his menu. They also may need to deal with unique<br />

consumer objections, extra costs from tariffs, shipp<strong>in</strong>g and<br />

travel prices, cultural differences, a multitude of beef options<br />

and time differences.<br />

“We’re always work<strong>in</strong>g to improve our contacts with<br />

<strong>in</strong>ternational specialists to understand what we can do to<br />

benefit their bus<strong>in</strong>ess and what drives their success,” says<br />

Geof Bednar, the brand’s vice president, <strong>in</strong>ternational.<br />

Charb<strong>in</strong>e agrees. While it may not always be easy, he says, it’s<br />

necessary to reach out to beef leaders, to tra<strong>in</strong> them and their<br />

teams, and to support them <strong>in</strong> every way feasible.<br />

Top <strong>in</strong>ternational specialists Samuel Huan with Shuh Sen Co.,<br />

Taiwan, and Efra<strong>in</strong> Ramirez with Atlantic FS SAS, Colombia,<br />

stand out as key global ambassadors. Others from Triple J<br />

Five Star Wholesale Foods, Guam, and INPELSA, Peru, make<br />

the list of focused, motivated champions, too.<br />

Specialists like Huan and Ramirez take pa<strong>in</strong>s to ensure the<br />

brand’s name is the first to come out of their mouths when<br />

speak<strong>in</strong>g with customers, and that the brand’s logo is the<br />

first one seen <strong>in</strong> their warehouses. They also host weekly sales<br />

meet<strong>in</strong>gs that <strong>in</strong>clude brand tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g, complete with how to<br />

properly use the name and trademarks, as well as extravagant<br />

customer events.<br />

For Huan, who’s been with Shuh Sen for 23 years, the Certified<br />

Angus Beef ® brand offers the opportunity to take a “no pa<strong>in</strong>,<br />

no ga<strong>in</strong>” approach to sell<strong>in</strong>g beef.<br />

“It has spirit, action, <strong>in</strong>tegrity and attitude,” he says. “I’ve<br />

visited the brand’s headquarters several times, and I’m always<br />

ready to work harder when I get back home.”<br />

Huan isn’t alone <strong>in</strong> his <strong>in</strong>creased excitement for the brand.<br />

This elite collection of passionate, goal-driven, beeflov<strong>in</strong>g<br />

sales leaders cont<strong>in</strong>ues to grow and demonstrate<br />

long-term, big-picture commitment <strong>in</strong> every sector of the<br />

foodservice bus<strong>in</strong>ess.<br />

Hands-on butchery and education are part of the experience chef guests receive at The Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Center.

Jorge Med<strong>in</strong>a of Sysco South Florida prepares beef<br />

for a dish at The Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Center dur<strong>in</strong>g a Lat<strong>in</strong><br />

America Associate’s <strong>in</strong> Meat program. <strong>Brand</strong><br />

specialists regularly assess opportunities for their<br />

teammates and their customers to participate <strong>in</strong><br />

learn<strong>in</strong>g opportunities tailored to their needs.<br />


<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 19

Brett Sawyer, chef and owner at The Plum<br />

and Good Company <strong>in</strong> Cleveland, didn’t<br />

th<strong>in</strong>k he could put beef on his menu, until<br />

a visit to The Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Center helped him<br />

discover creative and profitable options.<br />

A short rib “tomahawk,” prepared osso buco style<br />

Draw<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>spiration from the more common pork<br />

porchetta, chefs created a beef version – beefchetta<br />

– at a Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Center ideation session.<br />

Chef Tony Biggs, the brand’s director of cul<strong>in</strong>ary arts, shows off a<br />

rib bone etched by Greg Gaardbo of Chicago Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Kitchen.



Embrac<strong>in</strong>g opportunities leads to creativity and greater returns<br />

Step <strong>in</strong>to The Plum, a hip restaurant serv<strong>in</strong>g creative fare on Cleveland’s west side, and you’re likely to see<br />

at least a couple of beef items on the menu, among the seasonal options that change weekly (or more<br />

often). But that wasn’t part of the orig<strong>in</strong>al vision.<br />

“My partners and I wanted to open a restaurant our chef friends could come to more regularly,” owner<br />

and chef Brett Sawyer expla<strong>in</strong>s. “So we wanted to make sure th<strong>in</strong>gs were affordable, but prepared at the<br />

level of the higher-end places that maybe you couldn’t afford to go to all the time.”<br />

Big-ticket, popular steaks like porterhouses or filet mignons are pricey—and they don’t always offer the<br />

opportunity for creativity Sawyer craves. At the same time, product quality, whether you’re talk<strong>in</strong>g beef or<br />

beets, is non-negotiable.<br />

The equation just didn’t seem to balance <strong>in</strong> favor of beef. However, that all changed when the Plum team<br />

was <strong>in</strong>troduced to some alternatives at the Certified Angus Beef ® Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Center. There, Sawyer took to<br />

the Meat Lab and proceeded to break down subprimals <strong>in</strong> new ways, explor<strong>in</strong>g and sampl<strong>in</strong>g different<br />

options that would work for their ever-chang<strong>in</strong>g menu.<br />

“There are all these other beef cuts out there that are be<strong>in</strong>g underutilized, that you can get good value for<br />

your restaurant, and therefore good value for your customers, and everybody w<strong>in</strong>s,” he expla<strong>in</strong>s.<br />

The result: dishes like The Plum’s beef belly, which comes as close to anyth<strong>in</strong>g the restaurant will ever have<br />

to a menu ma<strong>in</strong>stay. It has appeared on the menu <strong>in</strong> multiple hyper-seasonal iterations, served with a fresh<br />

berry and Worcestershire sauce <strong>in</strong> the summer, or with potato puree and red eye gravy <strong>in</strong> the w<strong>in</strong>ter, or<br />

cured like pastrami with a horseradish cream sauce.<br />

As the name implies, beef belly is ak<strong>in</strong> to the more common pork belly. Both feature rich ribbons of<br />

unctuous fat <strong>in</strong> between the umami-rich meat. But the beef belly, or navel, is someth<strong>in</strong>g “people don’t<br />

really understand, or know,” says Sawyer. “You don’t just go to the grocery store and buy beef navel.<br />

That’s why we want to be the ones to <strong>in</strong>troduce them to it.”<br />

“We wouldn’t ever have used navel if it weren’t for them show<strong>in</strong>g it to us at The Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Center,” Sawyer<br />

recalls. “What we learn <strong>in</strong> the Meat Lab, we apply it regularly here. I don’t th<strong>in</strong>k we’re ever without a<br />

Certified Angus Beef ® brand item on the menu now.”<br />

Today, Sawyer and his team are also us<strong>in</strong>g a unique and proprietary blend of beef cuts developed and tested<br />

at The Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Center for the signature dish, the Good Boi burger, at his second restaurant, Good Company.<br />

“The relationship we’ve developed with the Certified Angus Beef ® brand is really what makes dishes like<br />

these possible,” Sawyer says. “They work directly with us to f<strong>in</strong>d unique ideas that work for us. We’re<br />

always look<strong>in</strong>g for someth<strong>in</strong>g new, and the relationship we’ve built has been essential to that creativity.”<br />

<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 21



While restaurateurs like Sawyer benefit from the affordability<br />

and are <strong>in</strong>spired by the potential for lesser-known cuts, they<br />

just as importantly br<strong>in</strong>g real value back to farmers and<br />

ranchers. Higher utilization of the entire carcass—not just the<br />

relatively few pounds of middle meats that have traditionally<br />

been prized—<strong>in</strong>creases profitability and susta<strong>in</strong>ability for<br />

cattle operations, too.<br />

It’s a movement that is tak<strong>in</strong>g root not just among chefs, but<br />

<strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>gly across the entire brand community. S<strong>in</strong>ce day<br />

one, retailers have been the primary driver of end meats, like<br />

chuck pot roasts, London broil or top rounds. But now, the<br />

brand’s team is help<strong>in</strong>g expose Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Center guests, often<br />

from the foodservice world, to the potential of these flavorful<br />

options that may just need a little extra love.<br />

It starts with ideation among the center’s cul<strong>in</strong>ary team.<br />

Each year, they take a few days away from their normal daily<br />

responsibilities to literally play around <strong>in</strong> the kitchen. Each<br />

chef cooks simply for the sake of be<strong>in</strong>g creative, try<strong>in</strong>g new<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs and shar<strong>in</strong>g ideas, says Deanna Walenciak, the brand’s<br />

director of education.<br />

In December 2017, Walenciak challenged the team with a<br />

straightforward request: “Make us love the round.”<br />

“We wanted to get out of that mentality that most people<br />

just gr<strong>in</strong>d it anyway,” she expla<strong>in</strong>s. “The general feel<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the<br />

cul<strong>in</strong>ary world is that it’s a tougher and less flavorful cut.”<br />

The chefs rose to the challenge, try<strong>in</strong>g new cook<strong>in</strong>g techniques<br />

and flavor comb<strong>in</strong>ations. They came up with a series of dishes<br />

that moved the general feel<strong>in</strong>g from “meh, the round…” to<br />

“wow, that’s the round?”<br />

Armed with those positive <strong>in</strong>sights, the team started to talk<br />

about the round more with Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Center visitors. They<br />

also featured the round at the Foodservice Leaders Summit<br />

a few months later, talk<strong>in</strong>g about product availability,<br />

opportunities, sales tips and of course, those menu ideas.<br />

“The chefs threw some fuel on what we were start<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

k<strong>in</strong>dle,” says Walenciak. “That’s how we can help move the<br />

needle: we heighten awareness.”<br />

And move the needle it did. From Fiscal 2017 to 2018, sales<br />

of the round jumped nearly 12%, second only to the brisket.<br />

Each time a less popular item moves up <strong>in</strong> popularity, that’s a<br />

positive signal that gets carried all the way back to the ranch.<br />

Last year’s cul<strong>in</strong>ary <strong>in</strong>novation days put the top sirlo<strong>in</strong> and<br />

the short rib <strong>in</strong> the spotlight. In fact, the short rib was the<br />

brand’s No. 1 growth item for <strong>2019</strong>, <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>g by 12% or 5<br />

million pounds. Sales of the top sirlo<strong>in</strong> cap, or coulotte, grew<br />

by 36% (1.3 million pounds), primarily among foodservice<br />

customers. Many factors <strong>in</strong>fluence sales, but it’s clear the<br />

<strong>in</strong>tentional focus makes an impact.<br />



Of course, not every kitchen is equipped to give these lesserknown<br />

cuts the time and attention they need to perform<br />

on the plate. Labor is, for many restaurateurs, their biggest<br />

challenge <strong>in</strong> today’s market: f<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g it, tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g it, reta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g<br />

it—and afford<strong>in</strong>g it. Time is quite literally money, and strik<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the right balance without sacrific<strong>in</strong>g quality, guest satisfaction<br />

and reputation can be a delicate balance.<br />

One solution: Value-added Certified Angus Beef ® brand<br />

products. S<strong>in</strong>ce 1985, an ever-<strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>g number of items<br />

crafted by skilled processors offer pre-cooked, pre-mar<strong>in</strong>ated,<br />

portioned or frozen options that deliver the brand’s proven<br />

consistent quality while solv<strong>in</strong>g back-of-the-house challenges.<br />

And while these products meet the needs of those who<br />

purchase them, they offer processors the opportunity to<br />

<strong>in</strong>novate and f<strong>in</strong>d creative <strong>in</strong>spiration, too.<br />

“Flavor is what I do best,” says Daniel Vargas, executive<br />

corporate chef for Golden West Food Group. “That’s my<br />

favorite part, creat<strong>in</strong>g recipes, know<strong>in</strong>g that someone is go<strong>in</strong>g<br />

to be eat<strong>in</strong>g them.”<br />

Work<strong>in</strong>g with the brand offers him the consistency that’s<br />

necessary for recipe development on a large scale, he notes.<br />

“I go through hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds on a<br />

weekly basis. It’s always very uniform; it follows a tight spec,”<br />

Vargas says. “The products always taste the same and you<br />

have to have that.”<br />

Visit<strong>in</strong>g The Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Center offered the Golden West team<br />

opportunities to learn more about the brand, experiment<br />

with different cuts and flavor profiles and ultimately settle on<br />

products that perform, cost effectively. Today, the processor<br />

offers 30 options, primarily to retail customers, rang<strong>in</strong>g from<br />

mar<strong>in</strong>ated tri-tips to uncured beef brisket and fresh patties<br />

co-branded with Wahlburgers. The team is also beh<strong>in</strong>d the<br />

Beeftisserie ® , which offers retailers a beef option <strong>in</strong> preparedfoods<br />

sections to compete with the omnipresent grab-and-go<br />

rotisserie chickens.<br />

“We have many products that go well beyond basic cuts of<br />

meat, and we’ve really prided ourselves on <strong>in</strong>novation,” says<br />

Tony Cimol<strong>in</strong>o, Golden West Food Group’s chief market<strong>in</strong>g<br />

officer. “We don’t make value products, we make premium<br />

products, and we’re constantly try<strong>in</strong>g to look for new ways<br />

to take the brand to the consumers <strong>in</strong> ways you may not have<br />

thought of before.”



Sometimes f<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g the right audience is the last piece of the<br />

utilization puzzle to click <strong>in</strong>to place. Different cultures have<br />

traditionally enjoyed different types of cuts, a fact that’s<br />

driven the beef export bus<strong>in</strong>ess for decades.<br />

Recently, that momentum has been build<strong>in</strong>g, as more types<br />

of consumers both domestically and globally are exposed to<br />

different types of beef cuts and dishes—and a realization that<br />

there are a lot of delicious cuts and applications they may not<br />

have known or appreciated before. Plus, consumers and chefs<br />

alike are <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>gly drawn to a “nose to tail” approach to<br />

cuis<strong>in</strong>e: respect<strong>in</strong>g the animal, and the effort and resources<br />

that go <strong>in</strong>to rais<strong>in</strong>g it, by consum<strong>in</strong>g more of it.<br />

Food culture has been a large driver of these changes. For<br />

example, it has helped open domestic beef lovers’ eyes<br />

to new ideas, often started <strong>in</strong> other cultures. While short<br />

ribs <strong>in</strong> U.S. kitchens are often braised, a new generation of<br />

American cooks are grill<strong>in</strong>g th<strong>in</strong>-sliced, flanken-cut short<br />

ribs—a style popularized by Koreans. Similarly, dishes that<br />

were once considered less common <strong>in</strong> the U.S. have become<br />

ma<strong>in</strong>stream. While some American households will always<br />

make tacos with ground beef, an <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>g number look<br />

for skirt steak or flap meat—common <strong>in</strong> Mexico and Lat<strong>in</strong><br />

America—to grill and chop <strong>in</strong>stead.<br />

The <strong>in</strong>fluence of global food culture is a reality <strong>in</strong> other<br />

markets, too. One example is Japan, where demand for highquality<br />

beef has grown from the upscale, white-tablecloth<br />

market to now <strong>in</strong>clude the middle class, with options like<br />

rice bowls and bento boxes: a reality that’s reflected <strong>in</strong> the<br />

more diverse base of licensed Certified Angus Beef ® brand<br />

restaurant partners <strong>in</strong> the market.<br />

As demographic and cultural shifts across the globe have<br />

brought these <strong>in</strong>fluences <strong>in</strong>to the ma<strong>in</strong>stream, it’s provid<strong>in</strong>g<br />

opportunities for more cuts across the carcass to become<br />

more appreciated, more <strong>in</strong> demand—and more profitable for<br />

those sell<strong>in</strong>g, produc<strong>in</strong>g and rais<strong>in</strong>g them.<br />

Tostones with shredded beef<br />


<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 23

Dur<strong>in</strong>g their annual Ideation<br />

Days, the brand’s team of chefs<br />

experiment, collaborate and<br />

create with no agenda other<br />

than to explore new ideas and<br />

ways to prepare beef.<br />

<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 25

Availability, and sales, of the brand’s Prime product reached<br />

historic heights <strong>in</strong> <strong>2019</strong>, thanks to the efforts of qualitym<strong>in</strong>ded<br />

ranchers rais<strong>in</strong>g cattle that meet the target.<br />

Dry-ag<strong>in</strong>g is another artisanal technique brand<br />

partners employ to further elevate the highest<br />

quality product and dist<strong>in</strong>guish their offer<strong>in</strong>gs.<br />

Most of the growth<br />

<strong>in</strong> Certified Angus<br />

Beef ® brand Prime<br />

sales came from retail<br />

partners, though the<br />

exclusive product<br />

rema<strong>in</strong>ed a ma<strong>in</strong>stay<br />

<strong>in</strong> steakhouses and<br />

white tablecloth<br />



Increas<strong>in</strong>g beef quality and historic availability of Prime propel partners’ success<br />

ShopRite, the large Northeastern grocery co-op, has “always been a Choice house,” accord<strong>in</strong>g to Roger<br />

Savoia, vice president of meat for its parent company, Wakefern.<br />

For many years, stores also offered the Certified Angus Beef ® brand as their top-tier beef option.<br />

“Our philosophy here is when we put a Choice item on sale, we always put the Certified Angus Beef ® brand<br />

on sale, too,” Savoia expla<strong>in</strong>s. This “shadow market<strong>in</strong>g” has served the retailer well, even through the<br />

2008 Recession and recovery.<br />

“We thought then that sales of the brand might dw<strong>in</strong>dle, or go away; however, it became stronger. The<br />

folks who bought it cont<strong>in</strong>ued to buy it,” he says.<br />

Through the decade to follow, the beef marketplace kept evolv<strong>in</strong>g. More familiar with the better eat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

experience premium beef delivered, consumers cont<strong>in</strong>ued to demand it, send<strong>in</strong>g clear economic signals<br />

back to the ranch. Farmers were <strong>in</strong>centivized to choose the best genetics and commit to the best<br />

management practices that result <strong>in</strong> better beef.<br />

It was a movement that not only ensured a grow<strong>in</strong>g supply of highly marbled product for the Certified<br />

Angus Beef ® brand’s traditional l<strong>in</strong>e, but—like the ris<strong>in</strong>g tide that lifts all boats—elevated the quality of<br />

beef across the <strong>in</strong>dustry. The supply of Select beef dropped 40% from 2010 also to 2018; <strong>in</strong> 2018, sales<br />

of Certified Angus Beef ® brand product eclipsed the supply of Select beef. Meanwhile, the amount of Prime<br />

grew significantly from 2010-18.<br />

Indeed, the supply of Prime product, both commodity and Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime, has never<br />

been higher than it was <strong>in</strong> the past year. Yet before 2015, it seemed most <strong>in</strong> the beef bus<strong>in</strong>ess assumed<br />

Prime beef was largely the provenance of steakhouses and other high-end restaurants. A little Prime<br />

product trickled <strong>in</strong>to retail channels—one example is Oklahoma-based Reasor’s, which started offer<strong>in</strong>g it<br />

years ago—but not much.<br />

That was expected, even appropriate, perhaps, when Prime hovered at around 2 to 3% of the market, as<br />

it had for years. But as the rate of cattle grad<strong>in</strong>g Prime drew higher than 8%, brand partners, particularly<br />

retailers like ShopRite, started tak<strong>in</strong>g note.<br />

“We said, ‘let’s give our customers an even better eat<strong>in</strong>g experience. Let’s take them up a step to Certified<br />

Angus Beef ® brand Prime,’” recalls John Balog, ShopRite’s beef category manager. “They’ve seen it <strong>in</strong><br />

restaurants; they know what it is. Now it’s their chance to buy it at a supermarket.”<br />

But the question rema<strong>in</strong>ed: if you build it, will they come?<br />

ShopRite started with a test <strong>in</strong> a few stores to see if they could get consumers to upgrade. It was soon<br />

apparent that high-end shoppers and younger generations like the Millennials appreciated be<strong>in</strong>g able to<br />

f<strong>in</strong>d a steakhouse-quality steak <strong>in</strong> the meat department.<br />

“What we’re track<strong>in</strong>g is that customers are buy<strong>in</strong>g Certified Angus Beef ® Prime, and those customers are the<br />

shoppers of the future,” says Savoia.<br />

Better yet, Prime didn’t cut <strong>in</strong>to sales of ShopRite’s other beef options, <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g traditional Certified<br />

Angus Beef ® brand product, as some had feared it might. In fact, the cha<strong>in</strong> grew category sales by a few<br />

percentage po<strong>in</strong>ts, accord<strong>in</strong>g to Mark Salerno, the stores’ meat merchandis<strong>in</strong>g and operations supervisor.<br />

“It exceeded my expectations,” he says, not<strong>in</strong>g a lot of excitement both at store level and among the<br />

retailer’s leadership. They’ve supported promotions, contests and advertis<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

“We want to show that we sell the best beef, not just any beef, and we’re really proud of that,” he says.<br />

<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 27



That pride, and the ability to reach consumers will<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

trade up, are shared by others who have <strong>in</strong>troduced—and<br />

embraced—the highest quality product.<br />

“The evolution of the Certified Angus Beef ® brand <strong>in</strong> our stores<br />

has really brought us to the next level,” says Steve Holloway,<br />

director of meat and seafood operations for Food City stores.<br />

Not only did the longtime brand partner <strong>in</strong>troduce a full l<strong>in</strong>e<br />

of Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime this year, but it also scaled<br />

back on the Select beef it offered price-conscious shoppers.<br />

“We really put the emphasis on upgrad<strong>in</strong>g our customers,<br />

expand<strong>in</strong>g the brand presence <strong>in</strong> our stores. Giv<strong>in</strong>g customers<br />

another option to upgrade their purchase and have a great<br />

eat<strong>in</strong>g experience has been a really big differential for us,”<br />

Holloway expla<strong>in</strong>s. “Consumer response has been fantastic.<br />

The <strong>in</strong>teraction with our customers has been super, and<br />

I th<strong>in</strong>k they understand what they’re purchas<strong>in</strong>g and the<br />

difference <strong>in</strong> the product.”<br />

Troy Schuelke, the meat and seafood director of operations<br />

for Trig’s, a small Wiscons<strong>in</strong>-based retailer that <strong>in</strong>troduced<br />

the brand’s Prime selections <strong>in</strong> its stores, concurs.<br />

“We’ve gotten some great feedback on that. Our customers<br />

have noticed, and they’re com<strong>in</strong>g back,” he says. “The brand<br />

is the cornerstone of our meat department. It’s the highest<br />

quality we can put <strong>in</strong> our case, and every other [prote<strong>in</strong>]<br />

program we put <strong>in</strong> our case needs to be that quality.”<br />

In fact, the trend toward Prime has been pronounced.<br />

Many retail partners—some new, some not—have added<br />

the highest quality label to their repertoire <strong>in</strong> the past year,<br />

<strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g Schnucks, Nam Dae Mun and Amigos Foods. It’s<br />

a big step for an area of the bus<strong>in</strong>ess that’s normally <strong>in</strong><br />

the shadows of the top dogs <strong>in</strong> the foodservice bus<strong>in</strong>ess,<br />

but like the beef itself, times are chang<strong>in</strong>g. In fact, <strong>in</strong> <strong>2019</strong><br />

retailers sold more Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime than<br />

their foodservice counterparts.<br />

Gelson’s prides itself on be<strong>in</strong>g the only multi-store grocery<br />

cha<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong> Southern California that’s licensed to carry and<br />

promote Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime product.<br />

“I’ve been <strong>in</strong> this meat bus<strong>in</strong>ess for over 35 years, and I know<br />

good beef when I see it and when I cut it and when I eat it,”<br />

says Sean Saenz, Gelson’s senior director of meat and seafood<br />

operations. “Anyone can sell a customer a good steak once,<br />

but part of our job is to sell that customer a great eat<strong>in</strong>g<br />

experience every time.”<br />



A great eat<strong>in</strong>g experience is exactly what Prime steaks, roasts,<br />

gr<strong>in</strong>ds and more provide. It’s what those 10 science-based<br />

standards ensure. And it’s what every customer, whether<br />

they’re slic<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>to a roast at home or watch<strong>in</strong>g waiters deliver<br />

a sizzl<strong>in</strong>g steak on a white ch<strong>in</strong>a plate, craves.<br />

Indeed, while much of the growth <strong>in</strong> Prime sales was claimed<br />

by the retail sector, foodservice bus<strong>in</strong>esses, particularly when it<br />

comes to steakhouses, rema<strong>in</strong>ed as enthusiastic as ever about<br />

the premium product.<br />

Cody Jones, the brand’s director of foodservice meat specialty,<br />

calls this time of high demand for Prime product “The Golden<br />

Age of Beef Quality.”<br />

“In this new era of high-quality beef, it is clear that those who focus<br />

on quality will cont<strong>in</strong>ue to be successful while those who focus on<br />

price and cut corners will cont<strong>in</strong>ue to be left beh<strong>in</strong>d,” he asserts.<br />

Foodservice distributors, such as PFG, Del Monte Meat and<br />

Sysco L<strong>in</strong>coln, have taken their passion for provid<strong>in</strong>g the besttast<strong>in</strong>g<br />

beef available <strong>in</strong> any market to new levels. That passion<br />

sh<strong>in</strong>es through <strong>in</strong> their <strong>in</strong>itiatives, as they hosted Prime-focused<br />

fabrication demonstrations, customer d<strong>in</strong>ners, chef playdates<br />

and more. Del Monte Meat even created a coffee mug with the<br />

brand’s Prime logo etched on it—a gift sure to be the envy of<br />

all customers.<br />

And for chefs and restaurateurs, Prime cont<strong>in</strong>ues to make<br />

good bus<strong>in</strong>ess sense, enhanc<strong>in</strong>g their reputation for consistent<br />

quality and an excellent eat<strong>in</strong>g experience, ensur<strong>in</strong>g return<br />

bus<strong>in</strong>ess <strong>in</strong> an <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>gly fickle climate.<br />

One example is Stark’s Steak and Seafood <strong>in</strong> Santa Rosa,<br />

Calif., which offers both traditional and Prime brand cuts.<br />

Some of that Prime product is taken to the next level through<br />

a signature ag<strong>in</strong>g protocol: wet aged, then dry aged <strong>in</strong>-house.<br />

“It spends about 59 days to get to the plate,” says executive<br />

chef de cuis<strong>in</strong>e David Zimmerman. “It’s important that<br />

customers know we don’t take shortcuts.<br />

“We want someone walk<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>to the restaurant for the first<br />

time to feel welcome, and to feel that classic steakhouse feel,<br />

with the dark wood and leather chairs,” he expla<strong>in</strong>s. “They<br />

need to know that the quality of the restaurant is go<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

represent the quality of the meat they’re go<strong>in</strong>g to order. We<br />

need to have control of the product, and to start with the very<br />

best, very consistent, very executable product to do that.”<br />

John Pickerel, owner of the Buckhorn Steakhouse <strong>in</strong><br />

W<strong>in</strong>ters, Calif., agrees that consistent quality is key. He’s<br />

had Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime sirlo<strong>in</strong>s <strong>in</strong> his product<br />

mix for the past 20 years.<br />

“Our philosophy is: noth<strong>in</strong>g matters except the guest returns.<br />

We’re always work<strong>in</strong>g on the return visit,” Pickerel expla<strong>in</strong>s.<br />

“The speed of change <strong>in</strong> the restaurant bus<strong>in</strong>ess has never<br />

been so quick. We have to rema<strong>in</strong> relevant to our customers<br />

and to rema<strong>in</strong> of value.”

It’s probably not a surprise that a restaurant<br />

named Prime C<strong>in</strong>c<strong>in</strong>nati has built its bus<strong>in</strong>ess<br />

on the very best steaks available. Indeed, the<br />

restaurant recognized as the brand’s <strong>2019</strong><br />

Steakhouse of the <strong>Year</strong> knows it must make<br />

the best impression on customers.<br />

“When you have somebody come <strong>in</strong>to a<br />

restaurant like ours, they’re often com<strong>in</strong>g to<br />

celebrate special occasions, and we need to<br />

understand that we’re go<strong>in</strong>g to be part of that<br />

memory,” expla<strong>in</strong>s manag<strong>in</strong>g partner Nelson<br />

Castillo. “We’re go<strong>in</strong>g to be part of that<br />

birthday, or that 25th or 50th anniversary,<br />

so we have to be perfect. They come together<br />

as a family with friends to share that special<br />

night, and they share it with us. So we have to<br />

deliver the Prime experience.”<br />

Executive Chef Shawn He<strong>in</strong>e agrees they have a<br />

responsibility “to br<strong>in</strong>g everyth<strong>in</strong>g we can to the<br />

table.” That <strong>in</strong>cludes not just the f<strong>in</strong>est steaks,<br />

and seafood of equal quality, but rais<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

bar with an <strong>in</strong>-house dry-age program. Even the<br />

restaurant’s burger, <strong>in</strong>troduced as an option at<br />

lunch, ups the ante. Because the restaurant cuts<br />

its own steaks, there’s plenty of Prime trim to<br />

use. And based on the success of that orig<strong>in</strong>al<br />

burger, He<strong>in</strong>e <strong>in</strong>troduced a new burger, crafted<br />

from whole chuck clod that’s dry-aged before<br />

be<strong>in</strong>g trimmed and ground.<br />

“We want to make everyone’s meal the best<br />

possible meal they could ever have,” expla<strong>in</strong>s<br />

He<strong>in</strong>e. Exceed<strong>in</strong>g guests’ expectations is the<br />

goal, achieved by elevat<strong>in</strong>g their standards.<br />

Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime burger<br />


<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 29

Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime ribeye steaks<br />

<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 31

Kent Black, third-generation pitmaster of Black’s<br />

BBQ, Lockhart, Texas, snaps a shot of the<br />

Atterholt family’s barn <strong>in</strong> Jeromesville, Ohio.<br />

A group of<br />

renowned pitmasters<br />

eagerly awaits their<br />

advanced butchery<br />

program at The<br />

Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Center.<br />

Meat Speak is a new podcast geared to meat lovers. Hosts Tony Biggs, left, and<br />

Bryan Schaaf, right, <strong>in</strong>terview Kylee Phillips, University of Florida, and Chandler<br />

Steele, Texas A&M University, two recipients of the Colv<strong>in</strong> Scholarship.<br />

A chef at Le Blanc Spa Resorts ®<br />

Los Cabos prepares skirt steak<br />

for a cul<strong>in</strong>ary Beach BBQ event.<br />

The brand’s new Steakholder Rewards program offers consumers the chance to earn po<strong>in</strong>ts for<br />

purchas<strong>in</strong>g and engag<strong>in</strong>g with the brand, then redeem them for personalized experiences.

I<br />


Engag<strong>in</strong>g loyalists requires more than mere market<strong>in</strong>g<br />

A superior product, based on a set of rigorous standards, has always been the Certified Angus Beef ® brand’s<br />

call<strong>in</strong>g card. Indeed, the brand name is synonymous with quality among consumers and brand partners alike.<br />

That’s no accident, of course. But especially <strong>in</strong> an era where beef quality has trended ever higher<br />

across the entire <strong>in</strong>dustry, it’s not the only th<strong>in</strong>g that sets the brand apart <strong>in</strong> <strong>2019</strong>.<br />

Most people who are familiar with and loyal to the brand <strong>in</strong> some way would agree they have a<br />

relationship with it that goes beyond the product itself. Perhaps they feel a connection to the brand’s<br />

grassroots heritage and the perseverance and care demonstrated by the ranch<strong>in</strong>g community beh<strong>in</strong>d<br />

it. Maybe they know that their family always enjoys burger night a little bit more when they start with<br />

the ground beef with that black, burgundy and gold sticker. Or it could be a salesperson who walks<br />

<strong>in</strong>to a product cutt<strong>in</strong>g with a restaurateur, feel<strong>in</strong>g a little more confident when he’s wear<strong>in</strong>g a shirt<br />

bear<strong>in</strong>g that same dist<strong>in</strong>ctive logo.<br />

It’s a chef who’s <strong>in</strong>spired to try someth<strong>in</strong>g new on her menu after kick<strong>in</strong>g around some ideas at The<br />

Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Center. It’s a farmer who heard an <strong>in</strong>terview with an expert offer<strong>in</strong>g another way to th<strong>in</strong>k<br />

about cattle management. It’s a mom brows<strong>in</strong>g Facebook while she waits at soccer practice and<br />

watches a video show<strong>in</strong>g how to pick the perfect roast.<br />

It’s all about be<strong>in</strong>g relevant to the many different types of people who feel an aff<strong>in</strong>ity with the brand,<br />

and foster<strong>in</strong>g that engagement <strong>in</strong> new ways. It’s about strengthen<strong>in</strong>g those relationships <strong>in</strong> ways that<br />

elevate the brand’s equity and return on its mission, driv<strong>in</strong>g bus<strong>in</strong>ess back to brand partners.<br />

<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 33



One such <strong>in</strong>itiative is a new consumer loyalty program,<br />

Steakholder Rewards. It’s designed to offer consumers<br />

the opportunity to be rewarded for engag<strong>in</strong>g with<br />

the brand and purchas<strong>in</strong>g product. After register<strong>in</strong>g,<br />

consumers will receive timely tips, recipes and updates <strong>in</strong><br />

regular newsletters. Members can earn po<strong>in</strong>ts by buy<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the brand or <strong>in</strong>teract<strong>in</strong>g with it <strong>in</strong> some way: watch<strong>in</strong>g a<br />

video, shar<strong>in</strong>g a social post or download<strong>in</strong>g a recipe, for<br />

example. Custom promotions and <strong>in</strong>dividualized reward<br />

packages will offer a thank-you to the most loyal fans:<br />

everyth<strong>in</strong>g from branded merchandise to the opportunity<br />

to participate <strong>in</strong> a one-of-a-k<strong>in</strong>d cul<strong>in</strong>ary experience.<br />

From Instagram to L<strong>in</strong>kedIn to Facebook and more,<br />

social networks offer brand fans the opportunity to not<br />

only engage with the brand and its partners, but also<br />

connect with one another to share ideas. One of those is<br />

the Certified Angus Beef ® Kitchen: a Facebook group and<br />

virtual hangout for beef lovers of all stripes who ask for<br />

d<strong>in</strong>ner ideas, share pictures of their latest beefy creations<br />

or simply post their sight<strong>in</strong>gs of the brand’s logo. Similarly,<br />

private groups for chefs connect professionals.<br />


Whether one is a chef, pitmaster or self-proclaimed<br />

“meathead,” a new podcast from the brand—“Meat Speak”—<br />

speaks their love language. Episodes are hosted by the brand’s<br />

Director of Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Arts Chef Tony Biggs and his <strong>in</strong>trepid<br />

sidekick, chef liaison Bryan Schaaf. Together, they take a deep<br />

dive <strong>in</strong>to topics that reflect the expertise and <strong>in</strong>terests of their<br />

star-studded l<strong>in</strong>eup of guests from across the cul<strong>in</strong>ary world.<br />

And while one might expect the primary topic to be beef,<br />

Schaaf and Biggs want listeners to appreciate that many<br />

meaty subjects—<strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g meat science and cul<strong>in</strong>ary trends—<br />

are fair game. Rather than serve as an extended commercial<br />

for the brand, the goal is to foster genu<strong>in</strong>e engagement<br />

among listeners.<br />

The landscape and tim<strong>in</strong>g was right for a podcast, said<br />

Tracey Erickson, the brand’s executive vice president of<br />

market<strong>in</strong>g. While podcast<strong>in</strong>g is <strong>in</strong>creas<strong>in</strong>gly popular—<br />

accord<strong>in</strong>g to a recent New York Times article, it now<br />

reaches 50% of all Americans—there was a vacuum for this<br />

particular type of content.<br />

“People are listen<strong>in</strong>g to podcasts wherever they used to listen<br />

to the radio,” she says. “It’s an ideal opportunity to reach<br />

people with our unique brand message and br<strong>in</strong>g those<br />

conversations to a wider community.”<br />


As a global brand, “community” can look very different from<br />

one situation to the next. While brand loyalists around the<br />

world share appreciation for the brand and feel a connection<br />

to it, it sometimes requires a more <strong>in</strong>tentional approach to<br />

understand each <strong>in</strong>dividual culture and ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong> relevance.<br />

“How do you visit a market with a different language and<br />

culture, just a couple times a year and help it succeed?” That’s<br />

the question Gebran Charb<strong>in</strong>e, the brand’s vice president of<br />

<strong>in</strong>ternational and ethnic market<strong>in</strong>g, asks himself upon each<br />

return from an overseas trip. <strong>Year</strong>s ago, the answer was<br />

simple: translate English, pieces <strong>in</strong>to different languages.<br />

Problem solved, right? Not quite. A quick translation may<br />

get the general message across, but it doesn’t help form a<br />

bond between the brand and those who sell and purchase<br />

it. In addition, nuances can be missed, from Japan or South<br />

Korea, to the Middle East, French Canada, the Caribbean,<br />

South America and beyond.<br />

The true key is to provide global partners with resources not<br />

only <strong>in</strong> their native language, but also relevant to the culture.<br />

For Ana Luisa Verba, director of <strong>in</strong>ternational market<strong>in</strong>g for<br />

Lat<strong>in</strong> America, it’s a passion. Anyone who has seen her lively,<br />

heartfelt presentations understands why: it’s the culture she<br />

grew up <strong>in</strong> and now shares with beef <strong>in</strong>dustry leaders. Each<br />

Lat<strong>in</strong>-focused piece, from social media posts to sell sheets, sports<br />

vibrant colors and entic<strong>in</strong>g Spanish language to grab consumers<br />

and put the brand <strong>in</strong> a culturally relevant context.<br />

“To be effective, it’s important to ‘trans-create’ rather than<br />

simply translate,” Verba expla<strong>in</strong>ed.<br />

While the Lat<strong>in</strong> American population is the largest ethnic<br />

segment <strong>in</strong> the U.S., the Asian American population is the fastest<br />

grow<strong>in</strong>g, accord<strong>in</strong>g to the latest census data, and Executive<br />

Account Manager Heidi Schroeder expla<strong>in</strong>s that provides a<br />

big opportunity for distributors, retailers and restaurateurs to<br />

br<strong>in</strong>g ethnic cuis<strong>in</strong>e trends to their markets: not just from a<br />

cul<strong>in</strong>ary perspective, but from the sales side, too.<br />

“Global is local” is the tagl<strong>in</strong>e she shares dur<strong>in</strong>g meet<strong>in</strong>gs with<br />

foodservice and retail salespersons. It conveys the idea that<br />

U.S. consumers don’t have to travel to Asia, or even major<br />

cities, to enjoy traditional and authentic foods from other<br />

cultures. A few examples: high-end restaurants, like Bistro<br />

Na’s <strong>in</strong> Los Angeles, and grocery stores like Nam Dae Mun<br />

Farmers Market, a Korean retailer <strong>in</strong> Atlanta.<br />

One potential challenge: those work<strong>in</strong>g at an ethnic<br />

restaurant or store may not be a part of that culture. For<br />

example, Nam Dae Mun’s meat department is run mostly<br />

by native Spanish speakers who require Spanish tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g<br />

materials and resources.<br />

While bridg<strong>in</strong>g cultures may take some effort, a little <strong>in</strong>tention<br />

goes a long way.<br />

“It’s simple: we genu<strong>in</strong>ely listen,” said Verba. “We care for<br />

their success, their market. We are committed to provid<strong>in</strong>g<br />

support, guidance, <strong>in</strong>novation, leadership. And we love<br />

what we do.”

Resources such as photos and recipes are created <strong>in</strong> and for markets like Japan, to ensure<br />

market<strong>in</strong>g materials are culturally relevant to global markets and consumers.<br />


<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 35

Guests at a “Steakhouse Feels” event m<strong>in</strong>gle and enjoy chef-created<br />

bites at the renowned Pebble Beach Food & W<strong>in</strong>e festival.<br />

Chef and author Elizabeth Karmel celebrated the launch of her<br />

best-sell<strong>in</strong>g book, “Steak and Cake,” which features her two<br />

favorite dishes and highlights the brand.<br />

A group of <strong>in</strong>fluencers and food bloggers visits the lauded Larder Deli <strong>in</strong> Cleveland,<br />

where Chef Jeremy Umansky takes an <strong>in</strong>ventive new approach to pastrami.<br />

Tony Biggs, the brand’s director of cul<strong>in</strong>ary arts, is <strong>in</strong>terviewed by the Today Show’s Al Roker at<br />

the Cayman Cookout, which attracts the world’s best chefs and most passionate foodies.

S<br />



It’s all about build<strong>in</strong>g relationships with media and <strong>in</strong>fluencers<br />

“Illum<strong>in</strong>at<strong>in</strong>g and <strong>in</strong>spir<strong>in</strong>g.”<br />

That’s how Kat Mart<strong>in</strong>, a writer for W<strong>in</strong>sight Grocery Bus<strong>in</strong>ess, characterized her <strong>in</strong>-person <strong>in</strong>troduction to<br />

the Certified Angus Beef ® community.<br />

Mart<strong>in</strong> attended the brand’s <strong>2019</strong> Annual Conference, where she had the opportunity to meet and<br />

<strong>in</strong>teract with people from gate to plate, <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g farmers and ranchers, processors, sales leaders, chefs<br />

and—of course—retail partners. Her biggest takeaway: a wish that more consumers could experience it.<br />

“By that, I’m referr<strong>in</strong>g to the abundance of love and care demonstrated by the full circle of partners who<br />

play a part,” she wrote. “It’s a story that can be easily overlooked.”<br />

“I’ve had limited experience on the front l<strong>in</strong>es of immers<strong>in</strong>g myself <strong>in</strong> the journey of what it takes to<br />

br<strong>in</strong>g a product to stores <strong>in</strong> the first place … Learn<strong>in</strong>g more about the first steps <strong>in</strong> the process are vitally<br />

important, and it’s a story that retailers should be proud to share.”<br />

<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 37


The feel<strong>in</strong>g is familiar to those already active <strong>in</strong> the brand<br />

community, but Mart<strong>in</strong>’s message is especially impactful and<br />

<strong>in</strong>fluential, because she’s knowledgeable yet unbiased.<br />

Third-party credibility—whether from journalists like Mart<strong>in</strong>,<br />

renowned chefs, popular social media <strong>in</strong>fluencers or down-toearth<br />

agriculturalists—means the brand engages <strong>in</strong> conversations<br />

about every segment of the beef bus<strong>in</strong>ess. These partners <strong>in</strong><br />

communication <strong>in</strong>fluence what people choose to purchase and<br />

eat. Their words pop up onl<strong>in</strong>e, <strong>in</strong> pr<strong>in</strong>ted publications and on<br />

social platforms; basically anywhere and everywhere.<br />

Their reach means there’s great value <strong>in</strong> connect<strong>in</strong>g with<br />

media and <strong>in</strong>fluencers, particularly because the brand and its<br />

diverse network of partners have such a powerful, authentic<br />

story to share.<br />

“It’s a story that’s worthy of be<strong>in</strong>g told, and one that might<br />

help potentially boost overall beef sales, because consumers<br />

want to feel good about the food they are buy<strong>in</strong>g to feed their<br />

families,” Mart<strong>in</strong>’s story concluded. “I wish more consumers<br />

could see and understand that Certified Angus Beef ® comes<br />

from cows that were loved and cared for throughout the<br />

entire process.”<br />


When these storytellers become believers <strong>in</strong> the brand’s<br />

mission and community, their genu<strong>in</strong>e connection amplifies<br />

the impact of their words. Many are <strong>in</strong>troduced to the<br />

brand and its partners after spend<strong>in</strong>g time with experts at<br />

the brand’s headquarters or at popular events. Food-lov<strong>in</strong>g<br />

writers also attend popular cul<strong>in</strong>ary gather<strong>in</strong>gs like Pebble<br />

Beach Food & W<strong>in</strong>e and Cayman Cookout. There, they meet<br />

brand representatives and chef partners who later become<br />

their go-to resources for stories focus<strong>in</strong>g on beef. It’s all about<br />

build<strong>in</strong>g relationships.<br />

Aly Walansky, a freelance writer who contributes to several<br />

national outlets, was <strong>in</strong>troduced to the brand at Le Blanc<br />

Spa Resorts ® Los Cabos. The all-<strong>in</strong>clusive luxury resort shared<br />

its premium beef offer<strong>in</strong>g as part of the resort’s story, and<br />

Walansky featured the brand <strong>in</strong> a Forbes piece—reach<strong>in</strong>g<br />

30 million—highlight<strong>in</strong>g its top-notch cul<strong>in</strong>ary selections.<br />

Then, a few months later, Walansky remembered the brand<br />

as a resource when research<strong>in</strong>g top chefs’ tips for grill<strong>in</strong>g the<br />

perfect steak. The result: an Insider feature shar<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>sight<br />

from corporate chef Michael Ollier.<br />

Similarly, Robert Moss, a writer for Southern Liv<strong>in</strong>g, got to know<br />

the brand after visit<strong>in</strong>g The Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Center and attend<strong>in</strong>g<br />

BBQ Summit, which he calls “Beef Camp.”<br />

“We toured a cattle farm, stuffed our own custom-blend<br />

sausages, and paired up <strong>in</strong> teams to cook an elaborate beefcentric<br />

feast. But the best part was when Diana Clark, a meat<br />

scientist for the Certified Angus Beef ® brand, took us <strong>in</strong>to the<br />

Meat Lab,” Moss wrote, <strong>in</strong>troduc<strong>in</strong>g “the lesser known cuts of<br />

beef you should be grill<strong>in</strong>g” to readers.<br />

Elizabeth Karmel has been a longtime friend of the brand.<br />

As her career evolved from restaurant chef to food writer<br />

for the Associated Press to cookbook author, her paths have<br />

crossed the brand’s many times. The years-long friendship<br />

reached new heights with the release of her best-sell<strong>in</strong>g<br />

cookbook, “Steak and Cake,” highlight<strong>in</strong>g her favorite foods<br />

for celebratory gather<strong>in</strong>gs.<br />

In it, she expla<strong>in</strong>s how her understand<strong>in</strong>g of the brand evolved:<br />

“Angus beef is everywhere these days, but buy<strong>in</strong>g Angus beef<br />

doesn’t mean you’re buy<strong>in</strong>g quality. I didn’t know that until<br />

I met the folks at Certified Angus Beef … I had thought it<br />

was solely a market<strong>in</strong>g program; I didn’t realize that it was<br />

really a quality program. But after spend<strong>in</strong>g several days at its<br />

headquarters <strong>in</strong> Ohio and break<strong>in</strong>g down a cow <strong>in</strong>to steaks<br />

with its top meat scientist, I’m a believer.”<br />

She shared her enthusiasm for quality beef as she launched<br />

her book on a publicity tour, do<strong>in</strong>g several <strong>in</strong>terviews<br />

with national media outlets as well as a special d<strong>in</strong>ner at<br />

BlackBarn restaurant <strong>in</strong> New York City attended by a long<br />

list of who’s who <strong>in</strong> the cul<strong>in</strong>ary world. At the center of that<br />

event: a jaw-dropp<strong>in</strong>g display of hang<strong>in</strong>g Certified Angus Beef ®<br />

brand tomahawk steaks that captured guests’ attention and<br />

Instagram accounts.<br />


Beyond traditional media like TV or pr<strong>in</strong>t publications, media<br />

and <strong>in</strong>fluencers make even bigger waves by us<strong>in</strong>g their own<br />

social media platforms take their experiences and stories to<br />

another level. Their use of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter<br />

not only enable the brand’s team to cont<strong>in</strong>ue engag<strong>in</strong>g with<br />

these key conversation starters, but also allow brand partners<br />

and consumers to connect with them as well.<br />

There’s also a grow<strong>in</strong>g network of people who aren’t<br />

traditional media members, but they’ve formed a relationship<br />

with the brand and actively share its stories. They capture<br />

cul<strong>in</strong>ary creativity on social media channels and talk about it<br />

with their onl<strong>in</strong>e friends.<br />

The Sunday Supper community—full of popular and talented<br />

social media <strong>in</strong>fluencers—is, naturally, social. But through all<br />

of its socializ<strong>in</strong>g, it’s creat<strong>in</strong>g content and more: it’s form<strong>in</strong>g<br />

longstand<strong>in</strong>g relationships with<strong>in</strong> the blogger community,<br />

and with chefs and consumers, with every mouthwater<strong>in</strong>g<br />

food shot and home-chef-<strong>in</strong>spired recipe.<br />

Through <strong>in</strong>teraction at brand events, both at The Cul<strong>in</strong>ary<br />

Center or at the farm, these social <strong>in</strong>fluencers have become<br />

such a close-knit, beef-lov<strong>in</strong>g group that their <strong>in</strong>teraction<br />

takes place both on and offl<strong>in</strong>e. It’s characterized by deep<br />

belly laughs, amaz<strong>in</strong>g food photography, knife work <strong>in</strong> the<br />

Meat Lab and Instagram stories that capture every moment.<br />

Their <strong>in</strong>volvement with the brand and social media allows<br />

them to meet people who shop meat cases hundreds of miles<br />

away from them and to make an impact that is hard for just<br />

one person to do alone. Every picture and every word <strong>in</strong>spired<br />

by these <strong>in</strong>teractions br<strong>in</strong>gs more visibility and exposure to<br />

the brand’s unique story and community.

The brand’s senior corporate chef Michael Ollier, center, was <strong>in</strong>vited to the<br />

national Fox & Friends morn<strong>in</strong>g show to present a cook<strong>in</strong>g segment for National<br />

Prime Rib Day <strong>in</strong> May. In addition to shar<strong>in</strong>g useful h<strong>in</strong>ts for choos<strong>in</strong>g and<br />

purchas<strong>in</strong>g a prime rib roast, he shared some no-fail cook<strong>in</strong>g tips for viewers.<br />


<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 39

Four-time heavyweight box<strong>in</strong>g<br />

champion Evander Holyfield, center,<br />

speaks about the Certified Angus Beef ®<br />

brand dur<strong>in</strong>g an <strong>in</strong>terview with Sirius<br />

XM <strong>in</strong> the lead-up to Super Bowl LIII.<br />

Pro Football Hall of Famer Morten Andersen and Holyfield learn more<br />

about the brand’s quality from president John Stika <strong>in</strong> the Meat Lab.<br />

Senior Corporate Chef Michael<br />

Ollier and Holyfield collaborate on<br />

a signature steak dish that would be<br />

featured dur<strong>in</strong>g the publicity blitz.<br />

Andersen takes a break from his recipe<br />

development session at The Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Center.



“The truth is this: Certified Angus Beef ® is the best beef <strong>in</strong> the world.”<br />

High praise, <strong>in</strong>deed—but those who know the brand and believe <strong>in</strong> it wouldn’t quibble with that statement.<br />

When the praise comes from a beloved Pro Football Hall of Famer and is shared with national media<br />

outlets on the lead-up to Super Bowl LIII, though, it arguably takes on some greater significance.<br />

“It’s the highest level. It’s the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as far as steaks. Yeah, that’s what you’ve got,”<br />

legendary kicker Morten Andersen told the media. “The Certified Angus Beef ® brand is obviously the<br />

standard-bearer for beef <strong>in</strong> America.”<br />

Andersen, along with four-time heavyweight box<strong>in</strong>g champion Evander Holyfield, were <strong>in</strong> Atlanta <strong>in</strong><br />

partnership with the brand for the big game. Beforehand, the dynamic duo visited The Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Center to<br />

learn about the brand beyond its reputation before head<strong>in</strong>g to Super Bowl LIII’s Media Row, where media<br />

gather dur<strong>in</strong>g the days lead<strong>in</strong>g up to, dur<strong>in</strong>g and after the big game. Andersen and Holyfield were jo<strong>in</strong>ed<br />

by team members <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g chefs Michael Ollier and Tony Biggs.<br />

The chefs had worked with the special ambassadors dur<strong>in</strong>g their time at brand headquarters to develop<br />

their own signature recipes. Ollier and Holyfield developed “Evander’s Grilled Strip Steaks with Real Deal<br />

Steak Sauce” while Biggs and Andersen whipped up “Morten’s Tenderlo<strong>in</strong> Châteaubriand with Béarnaise<br />

Sauce”—big, bold dishes that matched the big game vibes.<br />

Those recipes were then prepared for Media Row participants like the CBS Sports network, Fox Sports<br />

Radio, Sirius XM radio, and the United K<strong>in</strong>gdom’s No. 1 sports radio show, TalkSPORT, to keep them<br />

fed and happy dur<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>terviews with the greats. The same recipes were also shared on the Big Game, Big<br />

Steaks webpage, so people watch<strong>in</strong>g the game at home could enjoy the beef, too.<br />

As part of the overall publicity blitz, which garnered an estimated 175 million impressions, the brand’s<br />

“Rare Moments, Done Well” commercial aired <strong>in</strong> key markets with strong partner presence before and<br />

dur<strong>in</strong>g the big game, plac<strong>in</strong>g the brand on a level play<strong>in</strong>g field with other prom<strong>in</strong>ent national brands.<br />

The goal of it all: to position the very best Angus beef as a household name and re<strong>in</strong>force its reputation<br />

around the world.<br />

“Activities like these connect the ultimate customer at a higher level with the brand,” says Tracey Erickson,<br />

the Certified Angus Beef ® brand’s executive vice president of market<strong>in</strong>g. “Every voice counts <strong>in</strong> help<strong>in</strong>g share<br />

our brand and its story, and <strong>in</strong> the end drive consumers to brand partners.”<br />

<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong><br />



Another high-profile brand-build<strong>in</strong>g opportunity came via<br />

Food Network Canada. Chef Dylan Benoit, a loyal brand<br />

ambassador for years, was go<strong>in</strong>g to be host<strong>in</strong>g a new show<br />

called “Fire Masters,” featur<strong>in</strong>g some of North America’s best<br />

chefs <strong>in</strong> a series of head-to-head grill<strong>in</strong>g competitions.<br />

It was the chance to work with a popular television network<br />

that the brand had been wait<strong>in</strong>g for. One that would allow<br />

the brand logo to be present, the full name to be said and the<br />

product to be used by the contestants.<br />

“In such a format, we don’t want to be just a logo. We want<br />

our product to be talked about, and Food Network Canada<br />

did that for us,” Erickson says.<br />

The brand was <strong>in</strong>cluded <strong>in</strong> every segment of the first season of<br />

“Fire Masters,” which had nearly 130,000 viewers. In addition,<br />

two other friends of the brand, Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe and<br />

Amy Mills, appeared as judges on the show, testament to the<br />

ever-grow<strong>in</strong>g network of chefs, pitmasters and meatheads<br />

who are part of the brand community.<br />

All of that would have been enough. But then, someth<strong>in</strong>g even<br />

better happened: U.S. Cook<strong>in</strong>g Channel, a sister network to<br />

Food Network Canada, picked up the show and aired it <strong>in</strong><br />

its entirety. That meant more brand and logo presence <strong>in</strong><br />

the homes of thousands, and the hundreds of local brand<br />

partners where those viewers shop.<br />

Production is under way for new seasons of the show that<br />

also feature the brand.<br />



As the say<strong>in</strong>g goes, “go big or go home,” and that’s especially<br />

true <strong>in</strong> certa<strong>in</strong> markets—<strong>in</strong> particular, when it comes to<br />

customer events. These gather<strong>in</strong>gs aren’t just a typical d<strong>in</strong>ner<br />

or short meet<strong>in</strong>g. They are big, bold and extravagant, with<br />

many attract<strong>in</strong>g the attention of royalty and dignitaries.<br />

That was the opportunity, and the challenge, when plann<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the Middle East #BestAngusBeef Ever Tour, which <strong>in</strong>cluded<br />

stops <strong>in</strong> Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.<br />

Not only did the beef-filled events <strong>in</strong> each country foster<br />

relationships with partners <strong>in</strong> the Middle East, but also<br />

garnered media coverage and customer connections.<br />

Biggs, who spent time cook<strong>in</strong>g for the k<strong>in</strong>g and queen of<br />

Jordan before jo<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g the brand, was featured as the host<br />

and lead chef. The U.S. Meat Export Federation, the U.S.<br />

Beef Checkoff ® and brand partners Schmacon and Megas<br />

Yeeros ® , helped fund the tour or provided product. Also<br />

assist<strong>in</strong>g were 10 well-known chefs <strong>in</strong> the region. One, Chef<br />

Nojoud Saadedd<strong>in</strong>, <strong>in</strong>vited Biggs to appear as a special guest<br />

on her cook<strong>in</strong>g show on Amman TV <strong>in</strong> Jordan.<br />

So popular was the tour, a second version was held <strong>in</strong><br />

conjunction with Taste of the Caribbean, a noted cul<strong>in</strong>ary<br />

event <strong>in</strong> the region. Future tours are planned for new corners<br />

of the globe, all with an eye on guests and events relevant<br />

to the specific markets that celebrate the brand’s worldwide<br />

network of partners and hungry consumers.<br />

Food Network Canada featured the brand <strong>in</strong> its grill<strong>in</strong>g competition series<br />

“Fire Masters.” The show was subsequently aired on the U.S. Cook<strong>in</strong>g Channel,<br />

garner<strong>in</strong>g even wider exposure.

The brand’s Corporate Chef Peter Rosenberg, left, and Director of<br />

Cul<strong>in</strong>ary Arts Tony Biggs, center, get ready to host guests at a stop on the<br />

Middle East #BestAngusBeef Ever Tour with Chef Georgious Kastanias of<br />

Megas Yeeros ® . At this event, the chefs offered guests an elevated take on<br />

traditional street food with their premium all-beef gyros.<br />


<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 43

S<strong>in</strong>gle Tree Farms, Charlotte, Mich.<br />

Chris Ulrich mends fences at his Allenwood, Pa.,<br />

farm. He <strong>in</strong>stalled the fences to keep cattle out of<br />

the stream and improve water quality.<br />

Conditions are arid and water is precious at Bradley 3 Ranch <strong>in</strong><br />

Memphis, Texas, but the Henderson family has taken many steps<br />

over the past 20 years to improve the land for their cattle.


Today’s farmers and feeders focus on efficiency ,<br />

quality , stewardship and education<br />

“Cow farts are not a th<strong>in</strong>g.”<br />

That’s probably news to most consumers, who have been hear<strong>in</strong>g for years that animal agriculture cattle,<br />

<strong>in</strong> particular is largely to blame for climate change. Take, for example, a February <strong>2019</strong> CNBC story, which<br />

stated: “Methane gas produced by bov<strong>in</strong>e flatulence contributes a significant portion of the greenhouse<br />

gases contribut<strong>in</strong>g to global warm<strong>in</strong>g, accord<strong>in</strong>g to the United Nations.”<br />

But accord<strong>in</strong>g to Dr. Sara Place, formerly the Senior Director of Susta<strong>in</strong>able Beef Production with the<br />

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, that’s just not true—and the real story isn’t that simple.<br />

Place acknowledges that cattle do produce methane, but wants to clarify “it all comes out the front end.”<br />

Correct<strong>in</strong>g widespread misconceptions is a big part of her work to educate cattlemen and consumers alike<br />

about the realities of beef production today.<br />

The methane that cattle across the entire U.S. beef <strong>in</strong>dustry produce, she expla<strong>in</strong>s, represents only 2% of<br />

greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, it lasts just 10 to 12 years <strong>in</strong> the atmosphere—which is important<br />

to consider when the U.S. has had a relatively steady cattle herd size <strong>in</strong> recent years, and therefore, a<br />

relatively steady amount of methane be<strong>in</strong>g produced.<br />

“We’re not add<strong>in</strong>g any new methane <strong>in</strong>to the atmosphere. It’s k<strong>in</strong>d of like a bathtub, where if you have<br />

water com<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> and go<strong>in</strong>g out at the same rate, the level is go<strong>in</strong>g to stay constant,” she expla<strong>in</strong>s. And,<br />

<strong>in</strong> fact, she adds, the number of cattle has actually been decreas<strong>in</strong>g over the past several decades, so it<br />

stands to reason that cattle emissions are dropp<strong>in</strong>g over time, too.<br />

<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 45



While the size of the U.S. herd may be contract<strong>in</strong>g, beef<br />

rema<strong>in</strong>s highly <strong>in</strong> demand by consumers. The balance works<br />

thanks to the efforts of farmers, ranchers, feeders and others<br />

who are rais<strong>in</strong>g more beef with fewer resources than ever<br />

before. It’s all part of a focus on susta<strong>in</strong>ability.<br />

More than the buzzword it’s become, susta<strong>in</strong>ability means<br />

many th<strong>in</strong>gs, Place expla<strong>in</strong>s. “It’s economic viability, it’s<br />

social responsibility and do<strong>in</strong>g right by the community,<br />

and it’s environmental stewardship. It’s all three of those<br />

areas together.”<br />

Organizations like the U.S. Roundtable for Susta<strong>in</strong>able<br />

Beef, of which the Certified Angus Beef ® brand is a part,<br />

help ensure that stakeholders across the beef community<br />

are actively engaged.<br />

Susta<strong>in</strong>ability is part and parcel of life on the farm—a reality<br />

that farmers and ranchers are f<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g value <strong>in</strong> communicat<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

Far from a one-size-fits-all checklist of “susta<strong>in</strong>able measures”<br />

to mark off one by one, they make decisions specifically for<br />

their unique environment and operation.<br />

For example, Chris Ulrich raises Angus cattle with his family<br />

near Allenwood. Theirs is one of an estimated 87,000 work<strong>in</strong>g<br />

farms <strong>in</strong> the Chesapeake Bay watershed, so runoff is a big<br />

consideration.<br />

“Our farm has a lot of ra<strong>in</strong>fall, and as a child, I realized the water<br />

that passed by the streams that are <strong>in</strong> our pastures ends up <strong>in</strong> the<br />

Chesapeake Bay about two days later,” he says. “It’s pretty easy<br />

to see that we have a profound impact on the area.”<br />

Ulrich says the first th<strong>in</strong>g they decided to do to m<strong>in</strong>imize or<br />

elim<strong>in</strong>ate runoff was get the cattle out of the streams.<br />

“Cattle and streams, they don’t belong together,” he says.<br />

“We fence them out. We put fences up and down both<br />

sides of the stream, and plant trees there, too. What we’ve<br />

found is a lot of the runoff that comes off our pastures gets<br />

trapped, and those nutrients get used up by the trees, and<br />

keeps it from go<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>to the stream.”<br />


Halfway across the country, <strong>in</strong> the central Panhandle of Texas,<br />

the concerns and considerations are very different for rancher<br />

James Henderson.<br />

“When we talk about stream beds <strong>in</strong> our area, we say they<br />

blow more than they flow,” he says of the arid, drought-prone<br />

climate. “In 2009, ’10 and ’11 comb<strong>in</strong>ed, we had a total of<br />

n<strong>in</strong>e <strong>in</strong>ches of ra<strong>in</strong>.”<br />

He recalls a pivotal moment back <strong>in</strong> 1995, when a range<br />

specialist visited the ranch and concluded it was “the most<br />

understocked, over-grazed ranch I’ve ever been on.”<br />

“That’s not what you want to hear as a rancher,” Henderson<br />

remarks. “So we sat down, looked at that, and asked ourselves<br />

why.” The result: a 20-year plan for resources. Their goal was<br />

to have nowhere on the ranch where cattle had to travel more<br />

than half a mile for water, while <strong>in</strong> that region, two miles to<br />

water isn’t uncommon.<br />

For Henderson, that meant controll<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>vasive brush like<br />

mesquite and juniper, which not only encroach on graz<strong>in</strong>g<br />

land but also use up more than their share of valuable water.<br />

Instead, Henderson planted more native grasses, which use<br />

less water but had been displaced by brush. It’s work<strong>in</strong>g, he<br />

reports, with more grasses and cattle thriv<strong>in</strong>g on the land<br />

than ever before.<br />


Because cattle are so versatile, they thrive <strong>in</strong> environments as<br />

different as Ulrich’s and Henderson’s. Consumers may not<br />

realize it, but due to their unique physiology, cattle are also<br />

<strong>in</strong>credible upcyclers.<br />

“They’re this vessel for transform<strong>in</strong>g all of these plants we<br />

can’t eat, from landscapes where we can’t grow plants we<br />

would want to eat, <strong>in</strong>to a really high eat<strong>in</strong>g experience and<br />

nutrition,” Place expla<strong>in</strong>s. “The major <strong>in</strong>puts that go <strong>in</strong>to<br />

produc<strong>in</strong>g beef are carbon dioxide out of the air, sunlight and<br />

ra<strong>in</strong>water, mostly. It’s k<strong>in</strong>d of cool to th<strong>in</strong>k that beef is solar<br />

energy, <strong>in</strong> a much more delicious form.”<br />

Furthermore, cattle eat th<strong>in</strong>gs that aren’t <strong>in</strong> competition with<br />

the human food supply, she notes.<br />

Cattle feeders like Hy-Pla<strong>in</strong>s Feed Yard <strong>in</strong> southwest Kansas<br />

take it one step further. Rather than just feed cattle, they’re<br />

research<strong>in</strong>g what and how they feed, with a goal of rais<strong>in</strong>g<br />

more beef with fewer resources.<br />

“We’re study<strong>in</strong>g it, and we’re try<strong>in</strong>g to see how we can<br />

make those cattle more efficient,” says Tom Jones, Hy-<br />

Pla<strong>in</strong>s co-owner and manager. His team’s goal is to raise<br />

cattle that grade Prime on 60 or 80 days of feed <strong>in</strong>stead of<br />

the usual 140, and to cut down on their water use. “That’s<br />

part of our susta<strong>in</strong>ability story.”<br />

Another part is work<strong>in</strong>g with the next generation. Jones<br />

proudly describes an <strong>in</strong>ternship program that attracts<br />

students from schools <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g Iowa State and Kansas<br />

State University.<br />

“They’re learn<strong>in</strong>g by work<strong>in</strong>g with a lot of different types of<br />

producers,” he says. “This is the future com<strong>in</strong>g up, and <strong>in</strong> our<br />

<strong>in</strong>dustry, we need more young people.”<br />

A research center that opened <strong>in</strong> 2017 has proven to be a<br />

valuable resource <strong>in</strong> educat<strong>in</strong>g students from elementary<br />

school, 4-H groups and at the university level, <strong>in</strong> addition to<br />

the communal office space of the veter<strong>in</strong>arian, reproductive<br />

specialist, research director and other experts on staff.<br />

“We’re try<strong>in</strong>g to promote our <strong>in</strong>dustry,” Jones says. “A lot of<br />

the kids who visit us aren’t ag kids but city kids. We’ll spend<br />

hours with them, all day long, just go<strong>in</strong>g through different<br />

phases of it and expla<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g what the cattle bus<strong>in</strong>ess is like.<br />

“We do have a great story to tell. And if we can study our<br />

lessons we can make a huge difference.”


It’s one th<strong>in</strong>g for these everyday environmentalists to make<br />

susta<strong>in</strong>ability a priority <strong>in</strong> their daily work. But like the ripple<br />

effect of a s<strong>in</strong>gle drop of water, there’s a lot of collective<br />

power <strong>in</strong> folks like Ulrich, Henderson, Jones, Place and so<br />

many others shar<strong>in</strong>g their experiences, their research and<br />

most of all their stories with a wider audience.<br />

“These misconceptions around beef and beef production are<br />

only go<strong>in</strong>g to persist as the marketplace cont<strong>in</strong>ues to evolve,”<br />

says Melissa Brewer, vice president of communications for the<br />

Certified Angus Beef ® brand. “It’s vitally important that we as<br />

a brand help facilitate these conversations and connect our<br />

partners, their customers and consumers with those who<br />

understand the reality of the beef community firsthand.”<br />

Often, it’s about creat<strong>in</strong>g connections and build<strong>in</strong>g relationships.<br />

“When people get the chance to meet a farmer and ask them<br />

questions, they usually realize they care about the same<br />

th<strong>in</strong>gs,” says Brewer. “Everyone cares about what they’re<br />

feed<strong>in</strong>g their family. People often just want to know that<br />

farmers really are do<strong>in</strong>g the right th<strong>in</strong>gs, and care about their<br />

cattle and their land.”<br />

That’s why brand partners and <strong>in</strong>fluencers are <strong>in</strong>vited to<br />

spend time on real work<strong>in</strong>g farms as they learn more about the<br />

brand and the beef community, so they have the opportunity<br />

to ask questions and ga<strong>in</strong> a greater perspective that they can<br />

take back to their teams, their customers or their followers.<br />

Support<strong>in</strong>g these <strong>in</strong>-person opportunities are a variety of<br />

resources available to brand partners like fact sheets, videos<br />

and other takeaways that help share the ranch<strong>in</strong>g story and<br />

dispel myths.<br />

“Farmers have a great story to share, and consumers are<br />

hungry to know more,” Brewer says. “With that comes the<br />

obligation and opportunity to learn more from each other<br />

and open up more dialogue, uphold<strong>in</strong>g our promise of<br />

deliver<strong>in</strong>g the very best beef.”<br />

Place concurs.<br />

“We can move quality and efficiency together. It’s not that<br />

as we become more efficient, we’re sacrific<strong>in</strong>g these other<br />

areas. That’s really what susta<strong>in</strong>ability is. It’s about be<strong>in</strong>g<br />

good bus<strong>in</strong>esspeople and do<strong>in</strong>g right by the environment,<br />

and do<strong>in</strong>g right by the community.”<br />


<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 47

Greg McCurry, Mt. Hope, Kan.<br />

Steve and G<strong>in</strong>ger Olson, Hereford, Texas<br />

The youngest generation of the<br />

Schroeder family, Clarence, Iowa<br />

The Haverkamp Family, Bern, Kan.



Empower<strong>in</strong>g ranchers helps them understand and meet consumer demand<br />

Nobody can do this alone; the beef community is no one-man show. That’s why the Certified Angus Beef ®<br />

brand <strong>in</strong>vests <strong>in</strong> relationships at every step, start<strong>in</strong>g where it all beg<strong>in</strong>s.<br />

“Without our brand, cattlemen would still raise cattle. They would still make improvements and<br />

advancements each year, but arguably they would not be as <strong>in</strong> tune with the wants and needs of the<br />

consumer,” says brand President John Stika.<br />

The supply team helps communicate consumer preference and demand signals to farmers and ranchers,<br />

and then arms them with <strong>in</strong>formation and tools to create more of the best beef.<br />

<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 49


It’s just a small logo. It doesn’t look like much, unless you’re<br />

try<strong>in</strong>g to sort through l<strong>in</strong>es of data on thousands of cattle.<br />

Then the Target<strong>in</strong>g the <strong>Brand</strong> SM logo is a welcome signal. The<br />

mark identifies animals more likely to help ranchers breed<br />

the next generation of cattle that qualify for the brand, by<br />

<strong>in</strong>dicat<strong>in</strong>g which have genetics likely meet requirements for<br />

marbl<strong>in</strong>g, ribeye size, carcass weight and more.<br />

“It’s a little like a Good Housekeep<strong>in</strong>g seal of approval for<br />

livestock,” says Kara Lee, production brand manager. “The<br />

goal is to make it easier for ranchers to sort through all the<br />

<strong>in</strong>formation available today, and help cattlemen who are<br />

really focused on quality get there more easily.”<br />

Registered breeders at 75 sales this year used the Target<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the <strong>Brand</strong> logo to market bulls that met the program’s<br />

requirement—nearly triple the previous sale season.<br />

“We try to arm people with enough <strong>in</strong>formation that they can<br />

make a decision on what they need for their cattle and their<br />

herd,” says Debbie Davis, who ranches with her husband, Jim,<br />

and their family <strong>in</strong> Oklahoma. “We can say, ‘Hey, we’ve got those<br />

cattle that can produce the brand, that can get you a premium.’<br />

We’re aim<strong>in</strong>g for the white-tablecloth crowd,” she says.<br />

“When cattlemen buy bulls, that sets the direction of their<br />

herd for years to come,” Lee says. “It’s a big decision, and<br />

we’re happy their suppliers are mak<strong>in</strong>g sure beef quality is<br />

part of the picture.”<br />


From breed<strong>in</strong>g to calv<strong>in</strong>g to feed<strong>in</strong>g—it takes months and<br />

years of work to get cattle from that bull purchase to when<br />

the calves are weaned and ready to move on to f<strong>in</strong>ish<strong>in</strong>g.<br />

For just a few short months, all of that potential rests <strong>in</strong> the<br />

hands of cattle feeders.<br />

The annual Feed<strong>in</strong>g Quality Forum is one way the brand keeps<br />

relevant topics <strong>in</strong> front of those who are the last <strong>in</strong> the cha<strong>in</strong><br />

to care for the cattle. This year’s two-day event <strong>in</strong> Amarillo,<br />

Texas, covered everyth<strong>in</strong>g from consumer preferences<br />

and packer commentary to traceability and generational<br />

differences <strong>in</strong> the workforce. All topics focused on challeng<strong>in</strong>g<br />

the beef community to th<strong>in</strong>k about the changes it can make<br />

to ensure its viability.<br />

Speakers addressed topics rang<strong>in</strong>g from animal care to<br />

alternative meats.<br />

“Sometimes we have to have an open m<strong>in</strong>d to be on the menu,”<br />

suggested retail food expert Anne-Marie Roer<strong>in</strong>k, pr<strong>in</strong>cipal<br />

at 210 Analytics, who studies consumer trends <strong>in</strong> the Food<br />

Market<strong>in</strong>g Institute’s annual Power of Meat survey. She noted<br />

that while consumers may want to <strong>in</strong>clude more plants <strong>in</strong> their<br />

diets, it doesn’t have to be at the expense of meat.<br />

Even <strong>in</strong> a climate where everyth<strong>in</strong>g from peanut butter to granola<br />

bars is be<strong>in</strong>g positioned as a great source of prote<strong>in</strong>, “meat is still<br />

the superior deliverer,” she said, challeng<strong>in</strong>g the beef community<br />

to keep work<strong>in</strong>g to w<strong>in</strong> and ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong> consumers.<br />

“The speakers represent a cross section of thought leaders on<br />

a variety of topics; the dialogue is very fresh, <strong>in</strong>formative and<br />

forward th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g,” says Paul Dykstra, beef cattle specialist.<br />

“We hope attendees garner some ideas or different ways of<br />

th<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g about familiar challenges that will either stimulate<br />

immediate results or longer-term directional change.”<br />


Throughout the year, the brand <strong>in</strong>teracts with farmers and<br />

ranchers at regional and national events, but <strong>in</strong> between,<br />

there’s always a steady conversation about economic<br />

<strong>in</strong>centives and management for quality.<br />

“We like to hear from cattlemen, keep<strong>in</strong>g a pulse on what’s<br />

most important to their livelihoods, and then <strong>in</strong> turn, we can<br />

share ways the brand fits <strong>in</strong>to that,” says Miranda Reiman,<br />

director of producer communications. Videos and audio<br />

clips air on national farm networks, articles run <strong>in</strong> trade<br />

publications across North America and social and digital<br />

media amplify the reach. “Our goal is to get producers more<br />

news and ideas to help them <strong>in</strong> their pursuit of quality. If<br />

they’re successful, we’re all successful.”<br />

Last fall, the producer communications team streaml<strong>in</strong>ed<br />

a mix of digital venues <strong>in</strong>to one easily recognized style with<br />

their rebrand<strong>in</strong>g as the Certified Angus Beef ® brand Cattleman<br />

Connection. A new website led the changes, but users on<br />

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram also noticed a cont<strong>in</strong>uity<br />

among platforms.<br />

“When cattlemen are look<strong>in</strong>g for production <strong>in</strong>formation<br />

now, they can certa<strong>in</strong>ly tell they’re <strong>in</strong> the right spot,” she<br />

says. “This change br<strong>in</strong>gs a new, premium experience to our<br />

cattleman resources by mak<strong>in</strong>g them easier to f<strong>in</strong>d, read and<br />

use on any device.”<br />


Keep<strong>in</strong>g a consumer focus has been at the heart of this brand<br />

s<strong>in</strong>ce the beg<strong>in</strong>n<strong>in</strong>g. That philosophy will cont<strong>in</strong>ue to shape<br />

the entire Angus organization <strong>in</strong>to the future. Earlier this year,<br />

Mark McCully, longtime vice president of production for the<br />

brand, was named chief executive officer of the American<br />

Angus Association ® .<br />

“The <strong>in</strong>terests of the consumer have never been better<br />

represented at our parent company than they are today,”<br />

Stika says. “Mark’s 19 years of experience <strong>in</strong> all segments of<br />

the bus<strong>in</strong>ess gives him a unique perspective as he leads the<br />

Angus breed, and we will all benefit from that.”<br />

The year-end numbers show cattlemen have responded to the<br />

signals that say, “Produce more quality.”<br />

“We had the equivalent of 13 months of supply this past fiscal<br />

year,” Stika notes. “That didn’t just happen. It was several<br />

years of <strong>in</strong>tentional focus.”<br />

It happens when all pull toward a common goal. Those<br />

relationships rem<strong>in</strong>d us we’re all <strong>in</strong> this together.

S<strong>in</strong>gle Tree Farms, Charlotte, Mich.<br />


<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 51

Hadrick Family Ranch, Faulkton, S.D.<br />

<strong>2019</strong> <strong>Brand</strong> <strong>Update</strong> 53

The Certified Angus Beef ® brand name and marks are<br />

service/trademarks of Certified Angus Beef LLC.<br />

© <strong>2019</strong>, Volume 23 Issue 1, published annually.<br />

All rights reserved. 12/19-19057-2700

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