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The Beef Consumer
Well-done or rare? I’ll have my steak medium, please. Beef consumers enjoy a safe food supply, eating satisfaction, and are becoming more and more interested in where their food comes from. They also want assurances related to animal care and environmental stewardship.
It’s important that beef producers keep up with changing consumer lifestyles and nutritional needs.
Dan Loy is the director of the Iowa Beef Center. He says some consumer demands are general such as less fat or uniform tenderness, while others are looking for specialized beef products including no antibiotics or added hormones. This is a small, but rapidly growing sector.
"Products that are verified to reduce or not use certain products are growing in popularity," says Loy. "Although, I think it’s important to know that the combined combination of organic, natural and grass-fed products are around 5% of the beef supply according to surveys that I’ve seen from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association."
He says they’re also seeing growth in verified breed and feeding programs.
"Basically, looking at verifying how the animal was raised, what their genetics are, some of the production practices that have occurred. Grass-fed would be an example, but there’s also a verified grain-fed program as well," he says. "So, depending on the consumer desires, there are verified production programs and branded products that can document that the beef meets their specific criteria."