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Beef takes center stage at health expo

Checkoff shares benefits of beef

The NBC 4 Health & Fitness Expo held in Washington, D.C., Jan. 10 and 11, is the nation's largest free health event with crowds exceeding 85,000, and beef took center stage. This year, the star role for beef included a tradeshow exhibit, lean beef cooking stage demonstrations, an ad in 85,000 program books and four weeks of Web ads on nbcwashington.com.

A checkoff-funded sponsorship by the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative in Bedford, Penn., kicked off with Patty Melt, a burger costume, making a grand entrance by walking the opening lap at the expo track.

This year, NEBPI was joined by the South Dakota Beef Industry Council.

"We believe strongly in the mission of the NEBPI and anything in D.C. is extra special because of the dense population and international diplomats," says Roger Gerdes, South Dakota Beef Industry Council board member and beef producer from Miller, S.D.

"By investing checkoff dollars, we were able to reach a large quantity of consumers in a short amount of time. And they were the right consumers who asked quality questions even though we didn't have gimmicks at the booth. These consumers are the end buyers of our product today and through education, we can keep them as consumers for years to come."

The checkoff extended producer dollars by partnering with Balducci's, a 10-unit retailer that routinely partners with the beef checkoff. Balducci's launched a "New Year, New You" promotion with the beef checkoff on Jan. 12 and during the Expo, Balducci's chefs demonstrated two recipes from the "New Year, New You" recipe planner on the "Healthy Cooking 4 U" stage.

The popular chefs served samples to more than 300 people during the two days, while Kara Behlke, registered dietician with the New York Beef Industry Council, joined the chefs on stage to discuss proteins role in weight loss. Balducci's also distributed beef coupons to the cooking stage crowd.

Sharon Byrne, a Pennsylvania National Beef Ambassador, joined NEBPI staff at the booth, accompanied by her parents, beef producers Dennis (Pennsylvania Beef Council vice chairman) and Dottie Byrne from Nottingham, Penn. Dennis says, "This is my second year at the show and again, I appreciate the work the checkoff is doing for producers. The expo is definitely a worthwhile project and a great opportunity to share our beef story."

And the beef checkoff is seeing results. The four-week Web ads drove traffic back to leanbeefsweepstakes.com, the microsite for the "New Year, New You" beef promotion and during that time, generated more than 1 million positive beef impressions. The promotion began during the presidential inauguration and as a result, more than doubled the impressions from the 2008 Fitness Expo Web ads. To date, more than 1,000 Balducci's customers have entered the "New Year, New You" sweepstakes. And, 1,000 copies of the "New Year, New You" recipe planner, 1,200 copies of Confident Cooking with Beef brochures and approximately 500 copies of The Healthy Beef Cookbook were distributed.

The irony of the expo booth location? Two vegetarian, animal rights groups were in proximity to the beef booth but the beef booth drew in the biggest crowds.

For more information about checkoff-funded activities, visit www.MyBeefCheckoff.com.

The NEBPI, a program of the Cattlemen's Beef Board, was established to extend the reach of checkoff dollars throughout the Northeast. Consumers, retailers and foodservice operators now have full-time support staff available to partner and participate in events, promotions and programs that are designed to increase beef demand throughout the region.

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