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New Beef, Pork Names Don’t Do Us Any Special Favors

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New meat cut labels lump pork and beef cuts together. Is this good or bad for the industry?

Around Memorial Day weekend, new meat labels were released for pork and beef cuts. The names are in place with the hopes of boosting sales by making meat shopping easier for consumers. More than 350 names have been created. The updated labels will be found at grocery stores and will feature three lines including the new name, the description of that cut and the best cooking methods. Sounds good, right? I have some doubts.

Like kabobs being prepped for an Independence Day grill-out, I’ve been marinating on these new names every since they first came out. Part of me thought that perhaps I feared the change. People sometimes struggle with change, so I figured that was my problem.

But the more I study the list, the more I’m convinced that the new names might offer more information for consumers, but they aren’t that advantageous to the beef industry.

Allow me to explain. The beef names that have become part of our “brand,” such as ribeye and porterhouse, now can be applied to pork cuts as well. So, if a consumer walks up to the butcher at the meat case and says, “I would like a ribeye.” The meat man might reply, “Beef or pork?”

Call me crazy, but the beef industry has worked hard to create the love affair that Americans have with a big, juicy ribeye. Now, thanks to these new names, that love also will be applied to pork cuts. My apologies to my hog-producer friends. You’ve got delicious bacon and baby-back ribs, but your ribeye does not equal my ribeye.

Check out the list of pork names here.

Check out the list of beef names here.

Think this is a stretch? Consider this Facebook post on the “Pork, Be Inspired,” page.

“It’s already the best value for your dollar at the meat case, so make pork the star of your plate! Porterhouse Pork Chops are 60% less expensive than Porterhouse Beef Steaks.”

Sure, there’s truth to this statement. Pork does have the budget-friendly edge right now if you’re comparing similar cuts, but I find it ridiculous that the pork chop is now a porterhouse. What happens when a consumer grills a porterhouse pork chop, and overcooks it, so it becomes a dry, white slab of meat? Does that consumer then lump all porterhouses together and decide he or she doesn’t like the cut?

Not only do we now have to worry about folks having a positive beef-eating experience every time, but now we have to worry about residual effects from someone eating a pork ribeye or porterhouse and not liking what they’ve bought!

Perhaps I’m getting a little worked up over nothing. My sincere hope is that the consumer is now able to make more educated decisions at the meat case. Frankly, I think we did the pork industry a big favor by extending our trusted, recognizable beef brand to pork cuts. But I digress. I will still enjoy pork chops this summer, but don’t expect me to call it a ribeye.

What do you think about the new names? Is it good, bad or a wash for the beef industry? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

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Discuss this Blog Entry 16

on Jun 25, 2013

No pork or feathered fowl contains a ribeye or porterhouse this is blaspheme to the beef industry

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 26, 2013

Bravo - I completely agree. And it's frustrating to see and hear the new pork marketing campaign that uses beef terms such as porterhouse and ribeye, to trounce on beef in an attempt to elevate pork. They need to find something unique - first they globbed onto chicken by being "The Other White Meat" and now they are coming after beef. It's frustrating to say the least.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 26, 2013

Completely agree with you. All the equity the beef industry had in names like T-Bone, Ribeye, Porterhouse we just gave to our competition.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 26, 2013

Very disheartening to see our BEEF checkoff dollars with this outcome.

leanin' H (not verified)
on Jun 26, 2013

Please show us where beef check-off dollars were spent.

Diane Henderson (not verified)
on Jun 26, 2013

Keep in mind that neither the beef industry nor the pork industry "owns" names of cuts from the carcass, so either may use names of particular cuts of the carcass already in use by the other industry. So the beef industry did not "give" anything to its competition; it wasn't ours to give. There's so much more to this issue than is covered here, and so many more benefits to the beef industry from the associated research. But really, would you ever mistake the taste of a tender, juicy ribeye steak with a pork chop, even if it was called a "ribeye pork chop"? A pork chop will never be a beef steak.

Tom Bosse (not verified)
on Jun 26, 2013

This is incredible. First, some of the things aren't exactly like they say. Beef people did all the work for this, without help from the federal government. The government has no business poking their nose in something that is none of their business.
Need to contact our Representatives and Senators.

on Jun 27, 2013

I agree with you that it will hurt beef producers and eventually could hurt pork producers due to the potential for overcooking like you stated. Keep up the good fight, the kids and I enjoy your column!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 27, 2013

Diane's statements are not quite correct. There was an extensive process to go thru to get national adaptation and acceptance of such name changes. This included Beef and Pork having several meetings with USDA AMS and FSIS. The joint hiring of a Chicago firm by Pork and Beef Checkoff's to help them. Submission of sought name changes by Pork and Beef Checkoff's fpr approval by the national Industry- Wide Cooperative Meat Identification Standards Committee (ICMISC). and then promotion for such changes and use of name changes by the jointly funded pork and beef checkoff web site meattracks.com to beef segments and retailers on the changes to the Uniform Retail Meat Identification Standards (URMIS). Make no mistake, this would not have happened without the leveraging of beef checkoff dollars with pork. So you see we did assist in giving our beef cut names to pork and the equity that goes with such product memorable trade names. Volumes have been written on the Power of a brand name. Our beef cut names are very much like a brand name

W.E. (not verified)
on Jun 27, 2013

Who made this decision? Surely it wasn't beef producers. By the way, Amanda, do you actually have any pork producer friends? All of our neighbors have gone out of pork production. During the 1980s, just in our small neighborhood, there were over 90 small farms where hogs were produced, and we served them with a local feed mill. Now there are no hogs grown here at all. Most pork is produced from hogs that live mainly like chickens, never setting foot on the soil, some never seeing the light of day. Beef can never be produced that way, thank God! We can fight back by growing out our calves from conception to consumption on clean green grass and homegrown hay. Can cattlemen not stand up together and defend our right to have our own vocabulary of cuts?

on Jun 27, 2013

This reminds me of in school when one kid is has something good, and is popular in their own right, but then you have all this people trying to feed off of their success to make them look popular too. The copycats usually end up getting showed up as being fakes, and then lose popularity. Sorry pork but by doing this you pretty much made yourself a poser to the industry.

CB Thomas (not verified)
on Jun 27, 2013

The 3 line description is good, but the use of names used for beef cuts does seem like an attempt to ride the good names of beef cuts. What could be done about it? Make sure the product is clearly labeled "Beef" or "Pork"

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jun 28, 2013

Approving the NEW use of a common name for two differing meats that require different safe-cooking temperatures should be libelous, but if not libelous, extremely stupid and short sighted as far as the safety of consumers is concerned.

Porter House (not verified)
on Jun 28, 2013

All those cuts of pork, you'd think they would have differentiated between country ribs bone in or boneless...how many times have I stood in front of the meat counter, smart phone in hand, trying to figure out what that cut of beef or pork is by the label? Countless.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jul 3, 2013

Are all of the beef industry members forgetting that the term "ham"burger has been used for all these years on labels and menus for ground beef product? I have also seen turkey "bacon" and recently been served beef "bacon". The name of the cut is not the brand.

Eric (not verified)
on Sep 5, 2013

Nice information about pork chop.

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”

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Amanda Radke

A fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell, SD, Amanda grew up on a purebred Limousin cattle operation in which she and husband Tyler are active. She graduated with a degree in agriculture journalism...

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