Current Edition

current edition

Beef – It’s to Market

Written by Dennis Sun

It looks like summer is here. We can toss out our worn-out overshoes, muck boots and torn-up raincoats for the moment, and it is time to muck out the mudroom. Grass is starting to grow on the floor boards of the pickup, as the collected dirt is so thick.

The weather people have said it’s certainly been an interesting winter and spring. They should have experienced living it outside of a building. But now, it is our turn to enjoy the outdoors.

About the time we brand, we start thinking about how to market those calves with the fresh brands. Some already know what they are going to do. They have a plan they follow every year, and it works for them. Others like to try new ways or times to sell their calves or yearlings. The best part is, it’s our decision to make, a freedom we’ll die for.

It is called marketing.

For a number of beef producers, marketing stops when the last calf or yearling is loaded on the truck. What happens with that animal is someone else’s decision after it leaves the ranch. Other producers will make decisions on the animal until it is processed. Either way is okay. But in my way of thinking, we should all be concerned with what happens to beef products as they make their way through the marketing chain, as it all really reflects what we do on the ranch every day.

Not being concerned is kind of like saying, “Once my child graduates from high school, life is their problem.”

I know that is a stretch of comparison, but it is how I view the importance of marketing of beef locally, nationally and global. And that is where the issues of supply and demand come up in marketing beef.

Supply and demand are major factors, and there are a number of issues that affectthem. Everyone who is involved in the beef business has a responsibility.

Two of the biggest factors concerning Americans and eating beef is image and good taste. However, if you are staying in a five-star hotel in China eating beef, you are proud of the fact you can afford a protein such as beef with great taste and tenderness. You really don’t care where it came from. Both will spend money to get what they want.

In a column for BEEF readers, Nevil Speer had a great comment.

He said, “There’s a substantive difference between consumption and demand. Demand is a function of both supply and price. In other words, even with a smaller supply, if consumers aren’t favorable toward beef, there’ll be little pricing power to clear the market.”

He went on to say, “What really matters is spending. To that end, per-capita beef spending in 2010 was approximately $261. In 2015, that measure reached $340. Meanwhile, the U.S. population was about 309 million in 2010 versus 321 million in 2015. Doing some quick math, that means U.S. beef spending increased nearly $28.5 billion in just five years. The beef industry has proven its ability to successfully capture new spending at an increasing rate.”

New spending results from marketing, both in America and China, and we all need to have a part in it. Our part comes from supporting the beef checkoff and livestock organizations that work on trade issues and keeping yourself abreast of marketing issues, both at home and abroad.

And we can’t forget about promoting our image to all.