Beef summit highlights end-use quality

Dean Falconer, a meat cutter with Butcher Block in Pocatello, Idaho, ties a prime rib roast with fat and ribs at a customer's special request for Christmas dinner. A beef summit sponsored by University of Idaho Jan. 16-18 in Pocatello will focus on how retail meat departments serve to bring value of the meat case through their merchandizing efforts.

POCATELLO, Idaho — Beef producers will learn how retail meat departments maximize the value of their carcasses through creative cuts, along with other issues pertaining to the meat side of the beef industry, during the upcoming Idaho Beef Summit.

The event, scheduled for Jan. 16-18 at the Red Lion Hotel in Pocatello, is sponsored by the Idaho Beef Council and will be taught by University of Idaho Extension and animal and meat science faculty, along with beef industry professionals.

The summit, funded with a $5,000 Beef Council grant, is hosted biannually, moving throughout Idaho.

Participants will meet at the hotel at 2 p.m. Jan. 16 for lectures on herd health management, genetics and beef quality and animal health products. During a welcome dinner, officials with the Idaho Cattle Association and Idaho Beef Council will offer updates. Jan. 17 will be devoted to field trips, with buses leaving for the Associated Food Stores warehouse and distribution center in Far West, Utah, at 8 a.m.

“Hopefully what they’ll see is the harder they try to create a better product, the easier it is for us to sell,” said Jerry Tingey, an Associated Foods retail sales specialist.

Lunch will be offered at Associated Foods, and additional stops are planned at grocery stores, emphasizing how they take wholesale beef from the distribution center and add value through their methods of packaging and labeling cuts.

Lectures resume at 8 a.m. Jan. 18, covering the cattle industry outlook, cattle growth promotants and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association programs to help retailers sell more beef. Admission is $75 per person, not including hotel rooms.

“The whole goal of this beef summit is to talk about end quality of the product and how decisions beef producers are making on the ranches affects the end-product quality,” said Sarah Baker, an event organizer and UI Extension educator from Custer County.

Baker said the summit will highlight Idaho’s Beef Quality Assurance Program — a training program teaching producers how to raise higher quality cattle.

In Idaho, Baker, said the program is offered through UI Extension, and buyers often pay a premium to certified producers. She said producers will also learn how their checkoff dollars are helping to train meat managers and market beef at the retail level. Idaho Beef Council’s Beef University, for example, teaches retail meat cutters about nutrition, beef preparation and other topics of interest to consumers.

Tingey said Associated Foods sales staff takes annual training on how to add value to beef through the latest cuts. He said the staff has also gone through Beef University. Tingey said nontraditional cuts can fetch higher prices for beef. For example, meat cutters have customarily used shoulder cuts for roasts, boneless short ribs or stew meat. Lately, he said meat cutters have cut flat iron stakes from the shoulder, recognizing it’s the second most tender muscle of the carcass, and have earned a roughly $2 price premium.

Other cuts he mentioned that add value to the carcass include smaller and thicker portions of ribeye, strip and top sirloin.

Organizers hope to draw up to 100 participants. Call 879-2344 for more information.

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