The restaurant (foodservice) channel is integral to beef producers’ business and livelihood. Figures from the National Restaurant Association indicate that consumers divide their food spending equally between foodservice and retail. Typically, eating trends start in foodservice and eventually influence consumer purchasing patterns at retail as America’s home cooks are inspired to replicate the same dishes they experienced while dining out.

That’s why the beef checkoff is targeting the approximately 945,000 foodservice locations in this country – that’s roughly 27 units for every single grocery store.

“The checkoff recognizes how important the restaurant landscape is to the livelihood of the industry; therefore, checkoff dollars are being invested to promote all beef, with special emphasis on middle meats,” says Bill Jackson from Oakdale, Calif., and chairman of the industry’s foodservice committee.

“The foodservice channel is very diverse, comprised of commercial restaurants and on-site foodservice operations such as hotels/lodging, recreation, colleges and universities, hospitals and schools. In 2008, beef wholesale purchases by all foodservice segments totaled $26.3 billion – that’s more than 8 billion pounds of beef or almost half the beef sold in the United States! What an opportunity for the checkoff to have some impact.”

One tactic in the revised promotional efforts is the BEEFlexible Ad Campaign. The campaign promotes the power of beef’s versatility across the menu landscape and is currently ranked the #1 advertising campaign in foodservice. Each ad contains a “call to action” directing readers to a website designed specifically for foodservice professionals. Peers recently recognized its success as the campaign received a National “Best of NAMA” Award.

“Foodservice is suffering far less than other industries, so the checkoff’s revised tactical plan to promote middle meats is a sort of stimulus plan for the foodservice channel. And, as a proactive measure for tougher economic times, another ad campaign called ‘Beef Profit Power’ was launched in conjunction with the BEEFlexible campaign,” continues Jackson. “This Profit Power campaign spotlights a series of compelling statistics that emphasize just how profitable beef can be for foodservice operators.”

To extend these promotions, thebeef checkoff partnered with Golden Corral in The Beef Lovers Promotion. This promotion ran in all 485 Golden Corral restaurants in 41 states from Oct. 20 through Dec. 31, 2008, during a period of softening steak sales, and moved almost 14 million pounds of brisket, shoulder clod, beef flats and sirloin.

The checkoff continues to target middle meats as a reminder to consumers that beef is a great choice for every meal occasion, no matter where that meal is prepared.

To my learn more about checkoff events, see My Beef Checkoff News.