Checkoff-Funded Nutrition and Health Research Must Connect With New Consumer Audiences
By Angie Meyer, Cattlemen’s Beef Board and Nutrition and Health Committee
I was a “city girl” until I married a third-generation dairy farmer. Since then, my husband and I have been actively involved in running our family dairy in Okarche, Okla.
Over the years, as I became a wife, then a mom and finally a grandma, I’ve become very interested in health and nutrition. Now, as a co-chair of the Beef Checkoff’s Nutrition and Health Committee, I’m applying my interest in healthy eating to help drive beef demand.
Beef in the Early Years
The Beef Checkoff’s principal role is to successfully drive demand for beef. To accomplish this goal, we must engage with a broad range of consumers. This is why the checkoff is expanding its efforts and working to reach different consumer audience segments.
And, through the power of checkoff-funded nutrition and health research, we’ve unlocked new audience groups – from infants and toddlers to teenagers and beyond.
We now have scientific evidence touting the beneficial role beef’s nutrients play in a child’s physical and cognitive development.
The research paper, “Meat Helps Every Bite Count,” says infants as young as six months of age need high-quality dietary sources of iron and zinc as their internal stores begin to deplete after birth. The unique, nutrient-dense matrix of iron-rich red meat, such as beef, makes it an ideal first complementary food.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recently recommended animal-sourced foods, such as beef, to support healthy growth for infants and toddlers. Backed by this recommendation as well as support from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Women, Infants and Children’s Program, checkoff-funded “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” launched a Beef in the Early Years promotional campaign.
Over the past two years, Beef in the Early Years has reached health professionals, parents and caregivers nationwide with attention-getting materials, infographics, preparation guides, eating tips, videos, recipes and more.
These materials have been promoted through YouTube, Google Search, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Spotify and podcasts. Since its launch, the campaign has reached more than 32 million consumers with information supporting introducing beef to infants around six months of age.
Here’s how “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” achieved those remarkable results:
1. A new nutrition research paper, “Meat Helps Make Every Bite Count: An Ideal First Food for Infants,” was published in Nutrition Today, garnering thousands of views.
2. Messaging in top-tier nutrition and health journals, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Healthy Children Magazine, educated health professionals about beef’s benefits.
E-blasts were sent through lists provided by EatRight Pro and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
3. More than 2,500 health professionals registered for an educational webinar with Dietitian Katie Ferraro about the nutrient adequacy and safety of incorporating solid foods – including beef – when implementing the baby-led weaning approach.
4. Partnerships with five leading nutrition influencers helped reach consumers via social media and blog posts featuring tips for introducing beef to infants and recipes the whole family could enjoy.
5. An episode featuring Dr. Michael Georgieff on the popular podcast, The Nourished Child, was downloaded more than 2,000 times on various platforms. Georgieff highlighted the importance of iron for a child’s brain development.
Spreading the word
While beef is an important food for babies and toddlers, it’s also great for the growth and development of older children and teenagers.
In August 2022, to mark the start of the school year and World Iron Awareness Week, the Beef Checkoff emphasized beef’s role in building strong minds and strong bodies. The DGA has stated many children and adolescents aren’t getting enough high-quality protein, iron, zinc, choline and vitamins B6 and B12.
To spread the word about beef’s high-quality protein and iron, the checkoff funded these initiatives:
1. In-office educational toolkits were delivered to doctors’ offices across the nation. The toolkits included a letter, an educational tool and a tear pad for parents and caregivers. The offices have received approximately 1,500 toolkits to date, with more expected to be delivered in 2023.
2. An EatRight Pro and Nutrition and Dietetics SmartBrief advertisement and e-blast provided information about beef’s key nutrients for children and teens to more than 406,000 health professionals.
3. Partnerships with five leading nutrition influencers featured quick and nutritious school lunches, opportunities to increase protein and iron in adolescence and tips to ensure children build strong minds and bodies.
4. Through a partnership with the Retail Dietitian Business Alliance, the checkoff shared two educational e-blasts and a sponsorship page with educational resources emphasizing the value of beef for children and teenagers.
5. The Beef Checkoff-funded nutrition team continues to work closely with state beef councils by offering an educational presentation by Dayle Hayes with updates on school lunch nutrition and opportunities to support beef as part of the school lunch program.
The Beef Checkoff’s nutrition and health research is not only driving more demand for beef – it’s also giving parents and health professionals the resources they need to help infants, toddlers and adolescents build healthy, strong minds and bodies.
Furthermore, these young people are key to beef’s future success – they’re the next generation who will be purchasing beef and cooking it for themselves and their families.
Angie Meyer is a member of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the co-chair of the Nutrition and Health Committee. For more information about the Human Nutrition Research Program and Beef in the Early Years, visit beefresearch.org.