State beef councils and the national Beef Checkoff Program have introduced a new retail beef marketing program that has the potential, they say, to significantly increase U.S. beef sales. The Beef Alternative Marketing, or BAM, creates smaller filets and roasts out of beef ribeyes, top loins and top sirloins by utilizing innovative cutting techniques. By increasing cut thickness, final product quality is protected.
BAM takes advantage of shoppers who previously looked elsewhere for nutritious, high-quality, size-appropriate proteins. The program's supporters say the smaller portions give consumers the sizes and nutritional profiles they seek. BAM includes a complete cutting and marketing program, including retailer training materials, point-of-sale materials, recipes, cooking instructions, charts, photos and instructional cutting posters.
According to Jim Henger, executive director of channel marketing for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, BAM is a perfect product for the times because it allows retailers to offer a product that has a new nutritional selling point, is sized to increase sales and retains the cooking quality of larger steaks. Focus groups have shown that consumers not only like the new shapes and thicknesses of the cuts, they are not concerned about higher per-pound costs because there is a lower price per package.
Producers who sit on state beef council boards see the value of the Beef Alternative Marketing program and have come out to assist in its introduction. For example, the South Dakota Beef Industry Council helped fund a nutrient analysis of BAM cuts that demonstrated that seven of the eight BAM cuts meet government guidelines for lean, with less fat and waste thanks to extra trimming. Consumers, in turn, perceive a greater value from the product's leaner fat profile.
Results from the nutrient analysis will be used by USDA to update its National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, the gold standard of databases for nutrient composition. Becky Walth, a South Dakota beef producer who sits on the South Dakota Beef Industry Council, says that often, obsolete information was being used by doctors, dietitians and health professionals in guiding clients to other protein selections.
Walth adds that with prices increasing, a slumping economy, and more attention being paid to nutrition, these cuts can definitely attract a new customer base. Beef carcasses are getting larger, and these smaller cuts can fit into a tight budget. And the nutrient profile meets government guidelines for lean.