Beef producers must put themselves in consumers’ shoes 

(Journal stock photo.)

All of us have neighbors, in some capacity. Some are right across the street. Others are miles and miles down a dirt or caliche road. They’re the ones you gather with on Sunday mornings, or just wave a friendly “hello” to at the local grocery store and move on with your busy day. 

For the past year serving as chairman of the Texas Beef Council board of directors—and more than a decade in various other industry positions—I have considered my fellow beef producers across the state to also be my neighbors. While we may differ by sector, size, management styles and region, we all want to sustain our operations for generations to come. And we’re all facing challenges we can’t control. 

Pat McDowell is chairman of the Texas Beef Council. (Courtesy photo.)
Pat McDowell is chairman of the Texas Beef Council. (Courtesy photo.)

However, something we can help control is how consumers perceive our product. That’s where the Beef Checkoff continues to make a major impact by implementing promotional, research, and educational programs to ensure beef is the protein of choice.  

One example of this work is reflected in data from the Consumer Beef Tracker. For the first time ever, consumers have ranked beef over chicken as a nutritious food. Fifty-four percent of consumers considered beef to be an excellent source of protein, which is 20 percentage points higher than chicken’s ranking. Beef has truly come a long way over the past few decades.  

The Power of Meat study further highlights how we are moving the needle for beef demand. Time and money are precious commodities for families trying to get dinner on the table. But despite these inflationary times, 53% of all fresh meat dollars were spent on beef last year—twice as much as chicken and more than all other proteins combined. 

TBC uses this information to streamline outreach here in Texas. The award-winning BBQuest series is reaching young consumers where they watch TV, which is on streaming services like Hulu. Recipes, including quick and easy beef meals, were viewed 1.4 million times last year. Ads targeting online grocery shoppers have resulted in 15 to 20% sales lifts for key retailers 

Our industry is constantly evolving, but today’s consumer is changing even faster. As producers, we must put ourselves in their shoes because we’re ALL consumers at the end of the day. It’s the Beef Checkoff’s job to zero-in on younger consumers, millennials and Gen Z, who are interested in nutrition information, recipes, and sustainability. These consumers are often three or four generations removed from a farm or ranch, so it’s up to us to set the record straight. 

As chairman, I’ve enjoyed experiencing firsthand how the TBC board stewards our own Beef Checkoff dollars, and that of our neighbors, to the highest and best use. We represent all areas of the industry and come together as a united front to bring more Texans together over a shared love of beef. But we can’t do it alone. Every Texas producer can help by gaining a better understanding of what consumers want and then finding ways to answer those needs. We’re all in this together, and together, we can accomplish so much more. 
Pat McDowell is chairman of the Texas Beef Council.