When it came time to put their money where their mouth is, 68% of restaurant patrons who participated in the three tasting events were willing to pay more for steaks that were source-identified to state or ranch of origin, Calkins says. However, steaks identified to region held no more value to these restaurant patrons than generic steaks.

“When they could identify the ranch where that animal came from, they were willing to pay, at high-end restaurant prices, an extra $8.75. And if you could tell them it was from Nebraska, that was worth $4.74,” he says. “So, there was roughly a $5 to $9 premium for source-verified product at high-end restaurants. That tells me there’s enough money in the system to give us some incentive to move forward with that.”

The reason these customers were willing to pay more for source-verified steaks, Calkins says, is because along with verification comes a promise. “It clearly indicates that customers care about where their meat comes from,” he says.

And the take-home for cattlemen? “When it’s source-verified and there’s accountability in the system, they think you have made a promise to them that they’re going to get a high-quality steak. I think that’s something important for us to think about. We have expectations on behalf of our customers, who believe we’re doing the right thing.”

To see recaps and view PowerPoints from presentations at the Range Beef Cow Symposium, click here