Now that 2009 has rolled around, various agricultural agencies are sending out their annual reports. Such is the Beef Checkoff Program Fiscal Year 2008 report, mailed out to producers last week.
The fiscal year for National and Colorado Beef Checkoff Programs runs from July 1 through June 30.
One of the highlights of the national Fiscal Year 2008 Report concerns beef imports worldwide. According to the report, U.S. exports worldwide amounted to 950,000 metric tons (2.09 billion pounds) valued at $3.4 billion. That's an increase of 29 percent in volume and 38 percent in value over Fiscal Year 2007.
In addition, exports during August 2008 set an all-time monthly record in terms of value - at $416 million. This surpassed the previous record of $387 million in June 2003.
The report further states that because the market has been reopened in South Korea, U.S. beef has now regained access to almost all major global markets.
During Fiscal Year 2008, the new chuck roll cut of meat was photographed and assigned specific cook timings at the Culinary Center. Other new recipes were developed, as well. And the Beef Innovations Group, a team dedicated to product development and research with chuck and round cuts of beef, came up with five new product applications that eventually will be marketed commercially.
Four new industry partnerships were formed with Hormel, Schwan's, Colorado Premium and American Food Group, also because of the hard work of BIG. An all-beef innovations contest also was launched, won by Smithfield's Texas Hold'um sandwich.
Since September 2007, about 416,000 National Beef Cook-Off recipe brochures have been distributed to consumers. Between June 1, 2007, and Oct. 1, 2008, the www.beefcookoff.org Web site had 142,459 sessions, while total page views grew 45 percent, to 354,117.
As to issues of reputation and management, a public opinion survey in May 2008 found that consumer confidence in beef safety rebounded from 86 percent in February 2008, following the Hallmark recall, to 91 percent. That was two points higher than the confidence measure in May 2007.
The survey also found that 97 percent of Americans support raising cattle for food if ranchers and farmers provide good care and treat animals humanely.
The Fiscal Year 2008 Report shows that food service continues to be beef's primary channel to consumers. In 2007, more than 8.6 billion pounds of beef moved through food service, representing $27.5 billion wholesale purchases by restaurants and institutions in the United States.
These findings represent highlights in the National Fiscal 2008 report. Work continues in youth education, public relations, food safety, advertising, nutrition, the use of new veal cuts, and more.
For the Colorado Beef Council, the National Western Stock Show was, as in previous years, a great place to promote beef. The Fiscal Year 2008 Report shows that a whopping 20,000 bags, stuffed with four beef recipes, were handed out. A "Beef: It's What's for Dinner" message was in the stadium arena and as a full-page ad in the souvenir program.
Kids enjoyed T-Bone, the Talking Steer and, including school groups, children received more than 15,000 Ranching Readers at the Stock Show.
At the Holiday Food & Gift Festival, held in Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado CattleWomen promoted beef by cooking up and serving more than 7,500 samples of Dirty Rice, a quick and easy dish made from rice, Cajun spices, ground beef, and red and green peppers.
A Nutritional Questionnaire, designed by the Colorado Beef Council and 9Health Fair staff, was part of a new pilot nutrition screening at last year's 9Health Fair. Each attendee at 21 pilot sites had the opportunity to complete the questionnaire and speak with a registered dietitian
Attendees found a shopping list on the back of the form, designed to guide consumers in finding nutrient-rich items at the grocery store. Included on the list were six of the lean beef cuts.
From this pilot program, the Nutrition Station is going statewide for the 2009 fair season. The 9Health Fair reaches 100,000 consumers each year.
"Beef : So Many Options" is a new brochure created by the Colorado Beef Council. It answers many questions that consumers have about beef, including differences between grain-fed, natural, organic, and grass-fed beef.
The Colorado Beef Council was also involved in other projects during the Fiscal Year 2008.
It was a good year for beef.