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Certified Angus Beef brand specs adjusted

Agriculture.com Staff 09/12/2006 @ 12:57pm

Responding to beef industry changes and consumer demand, the Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) board of directors Sept. 7 voted to adjust Certified Angus Beef brand specifications.

In place of a longstanding Yield Grade (YG) 3.9 limit, the brand will use a more specific consistency requirement in the future. Finished cattle weights have increased steadily and beef fabrication styles have evolved in the 28 years since CAB was founded. The changes will address uniformity issues that technology has been unable to control.

The board voted to adopt a ribeye size bracket of 10 to 16 square inches and a carcass weight cap at less than 1,000 pounds. It also instructed the CAB staff to investigate limits on external fat thickness to refine compositional consistency.

Since 1978, the average weight of a U.S. beef carcass has increased by nearly 6 pounds per year, or 165 pounds, while the initial YG 3.9 limit remained static. "That limit helped control carcass weight, ribeye size and external fat," says CAB president Jim Riemann. "It maintained a balance of those factors and allowed strength in one or two of those areas, but increasingly, outliers have set back our consistency goals. Yield grade is a cutability indicator for the packer, but it does not give us the product size and weight consistency our licensed retailers and restaurant operators need."

The brand's 2005 consist study of 26,700 carcasses at plants in four states found calculated YG 3 carcasses with a ribeye range of 6.9 to 19.0 square inches, and carcass weights of up to 1,169 pounds.

"It makes sense to limit ribeye range and to control cut weights, as it does to investigate an appropriate fat thickness," Riemann says. "The idea is to achieve better control over consistency than yield grade currently offers."

Muscling in Angus cattle has kept pace with the trend to heavier weights, but further pressure there could only lead to still heavier weights and ribeyes. "Adjusting our specification is a more appropriate way to address filling the box," says John Stika, CAB vice president for business development. "We will lose at least 6% of the cattle that currently qualify for the brand, but pick up others better suited to the needs of our customers."

Responding to beef industry changes and consumer demand, the Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) board of directors Sept. 7 voted to adjust Certified Angus Beef brand specifications.

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