Consumers today want to know how and where their food is raised, and a new campaign funded by the Beef Checkoff intends to give them the inside story on beef.
The campaign focuses on putting the industry’s Beef Quality Assurance program front and center with consumers. The voluntary program trains and certifies cattle producers on best management practices for animal care, addressing cattle handling, health, nutrition and transportation.
BQA is a rancher-led educational program to promote animal-care practices based in science and aligned with governmental regulations.
It began more than 30 years ago with ranchers, veterinarians, nutritionists and animal scientists focusing on how to up the game to yield better quality beef, said Josh White, executive director of producer education at National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff.
“BQA has achieved really good results,” he said.
Those results are more beef grading prime and choice and less defects, he said.
Prime and choice are the highest USDA grades of beef, and more than 80% of U.S. beef today hits that mark.
The new campaign is “a great way to brag on the program,” he said.
It’s also a way to congratulate cattle producers on that success, he said.
More than 85% of beef produced in the U.S. comes from farmers and ranchers who are BQA certified, according to the Beef Checkoff.
Research shows consumers are particularly concerned with animal welfare, and BQA has a strong theme of animal welfare, he said.
The campaign is taking the formerly producer-facing program to consumers, and limited marketing research on BQA showed it resonated really well with consumers, he said.
“The BQA program offers consumers assurance that there are consistent animal-care standards in place across the beef industry,” he said.
It exemplifies farmers’ and ranchers’ commitment to caring for their animals and providing families with the safest and highest-quality beef possible, he said.
The BQA push is part of the “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” campaign, which relaunched two years ago with the Rethink the Ranch effort, Hillary Makens, NCBA director of media relations, said.
The new initiative is a full marketing campaign that includes videos of how beef is raised on farms and ranches across the country. It will also be promoted on Hulu and other connected devices and will allow consumers to learn more and get their questions answered through interactive “BQ&A” Instagram stories, she said.
It’s telling consumers about BQA in language they understand without losing the meat of the producer program. Consumers who are hyper interested in BQA can dive further into the program on the website, White said.
“With the vast majority of the beef supply in the U.S. today coming from a BQA certified farmer or rancher and many packing plants and restaurant chains setting BQA requirements, consumers should have the utmost confidence in the beef they consume and purchase both at restaurants and supermarkets,” he said.