The challenge is great, but the opportunity is greater.
The traditional family has changed tremendously from the time when I was a kid. The traditional U.S. family in the 1960s overwhelmingly consisted of two parents, with one parent home and the other working. Families enjoyed home-cooked meals that they typically atetogether.
Things have changed a lot since then. Folks are on the go. That traditional two-parent family isn’t the majority status anymore. In fact, most consumers today don’t know how to cook, and aren’t willing to spend a lot of time cooking anyway.
My wife is a throwback; she cooks wonderful meals, with main courses, multiple dishes and the like. However, she also travels. So, when she’s gone, our food either comes out of a box or goes in the microwave or oven. In her absence, we don’t eat it if it takes more than five minutes to prepare or more than 30 minutes to cook.
To tell you the truth, hamburger is about the only thing that survives the menu shift that occurs when I become the cook. I would guess I’m closer to being the average consumer than my wife is.
I like to see the list of what consumers care about when purchasing food. That list is full of things like being locally produced, nutritious, and free of contaminants, hormones, pesticides and antibiotics. Oh, and no GMOs. They want the animals to be treated ethically and, perhaps most importantly, they don’t want to eat something that will make them fat. This is despite the fact, or maybe because of it, that the U.S. is on pace to be the most obese nation in history. Of course, consumers also want to enjoy the eating experience, and do it cost effectively as well.
Cattlemen aren’t much different, we know cattle and grass, but most of us are not experts when it comes to meat cuts. The consumer may have heard of a New York strip, T-bone, porterhouse steak, or filet, but they don’t know how to properly prepare a roast or a flank steak.
Thus, we need to make our product more convenient, easier to use and prepare, and it must not only taste good, but it must make the consumer feel good while they eat it. The challenge is great, but the opportunity is greater. Of course, in a commodity system, everyone hopes someone else will do the heavy lifting. The problem, or the opportunity, is that the sector most affected by beef demand is the segment farthest removed from the consumer, and probably not just from a production standpoint.
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