Building and Protecting Demand

Published on Mon, 05/04/2015 - 1:02pm

Philip Ellis, NCBA President  

Beef promotion in domestic and foreign markets is a cornerstone of the Beef Checkoff Program. The program was developed by producers in an effort to utilize every tool available for growing beef demand for their product. According to CattleFax, wholesale beef demand rose 17 percent in 2014, the biggest year-over-year growth in at least 25 years. That growth came despite record-high beef and cattle prices, a sign that domestic consumers have a strong desire for beef.

Likewise, overseas demand is also growing, with exports contributing more than $300 per head to fed cattle prices last year. Although it’s difficult to quantify the exact impact, I have no doubt some of this is due to checkoff-funded promotion efforts at home and abroad.

Last month, you may have seen the latest domestic beef promotion efforts launch online. The Protein Challenge, which kicked off in April, is meant to help consumers, particularly those crucial millennials, find new ways to quickly and easily include beef in their diets. This campaign uses daily emails and inspiration to keep participants consuming beef on a regular basis throughout the month. It marks a significant shift in the marketing landscape for beef and we’ve already seen tremendous participation. The best part about the Protein Challenge is that it can be started anytime and as it continues to see social media engagement, we expect to see even more consumers join the campaign.

Keeping people engaged in our efforts as consumers and as advocates for the beef industry is important to our success as both a checkoff contractor and a policy organization. NCBA is fully engaged in promoting, researching and defending beef and our ability to produce it. It’s one of the best things about how the association is structured and one of the reasons NCBA was structured this way during the 1996 merger. Our staff has the scientific and technical expertise to understand and promote beef as a checkoff contractor on one side of the firewall, and on the other side the knowledge and ability to ensure our interests are well represented with our elected and appointed officials in the nation’s capital.

For example, a few years ago, the checkoff-funded BOLD study, or Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet, demonstrated that eating beef can help lower cholesterol levels as part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. This work demonstrated that lean beef has a place on the plate next to other healthy food choices and it has helped to reshape the way some health professionals view beef and its role in the American diet.

Despite that science-based work, there are still many misconceptions about the healthfulness of lean beef in the diet. That became apparent earlier this year when the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee relegated beef to a simple footnote in their report to the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. The inconsistencies in the committee report are alarming to America’s beef producers, in part because so much of the scientific evidence we provided to the committee wasn’t addressed or included in the final report.

As beef producers, we can never take our customers for granted. As an organization, NCBA knows we can’t take our members or our industry stakeholders for granted either and we’re dedicated to assuring that we earn our industry leadership role each day, both as a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program and as a membership organization working tirelessly on your behalf in order to provide the best return on your investment.

Philip Ellis is a fifth-generation rancher who stewards a commercial cow-calf operation in Bear Creek Valley in southeast Wyoming. Philip has been involved in the cattle industry for many years and has served in various leadership roles. He has been active at the state level in the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and nationally, serving on the NCBA Board of Directors and the Ag Policy Committee. Ellis was the Region V Vice President, President Elect and is now currently serving as the President.