The checkoff-funded National Beef Quality Audit, conducted every five years since 1991, assesses industry progress on a variety of production issues that ultimately affect consumer demand for beef.
Keith Belk, Colorado State University, has been involved in the development of this year's audit, which includes three stages. Phase I included interviews with more than 200 individuals in beef production and marketing; Phase II included an in-plant survey with eight harvest facilities; and Phase III was a benchmark survey of seedstock and feedyard industry segments.
More modern data collection methods have allowed the audit to collect more information than it has in the past.
"In Phase One, we designed a survey that allowed us to dynamically route questions based on the answers that respondents gave to various questions. And in Phase Two for the first time, have been able to collect a ton of data that resulted from the use of instruments and instrument grading systems," Belk said.
The amount of information collected via the checkoff-supported Quality Audit can seem daunting, but Belk said the data disseminated will directly benefit all cattle producers.
"For the first time we've been able to quantify responses to gut reactions about quality issues and things that affect purchasing decisions in the industry," Belk said. "Anytime you can quantify the impact that various attributes have on purchasing decisions, that always will benefit the industry in terms of things that they can manage to improve profitability."
The information collected will help producers identify key quality factors to focus on with their operations.
Belk says he's been involved with the National Beef Quality Audit since 1991 and said the research has never deviated from its original intent of improving producer profitability.
"It's an evolutionary process trying to collect data and trying to benchmark the state of the industry, and every time we do one of these, we learn something that we can apply to the next audit.It hasn't lost its original purpose of trying to quantify the things the industry could do to improve the profitability by improving the value of beef at consumption levels."
The results from the 2011 National Beef Quality Audit will be released at the upcoming Summer Cattle Industry Conference in July.
For more information, visit MyBeefCheckoff.com.