With seven consecutive quarters of increased consumer demand and year-end demand figures that are 3.6% higher than 1999 levels, the beef industry is on the right track, according to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA).

The NCBA is cooperating on industry plans to boost demand another 6% by 2004, and new convenient beef products will be key in achieving that goal.

The industry provided a taste of what is to come, at the 2001 Cattle and Beef Industry Convention, by announcing the launch of several convenient beef products, including Farmland Ground & Browned Fully-Cooked & Seasoned Ground Beef: Cheeseburger Fries, distributed by Sam Hausman Meat Packer, Inc.; and Hormel Always Tender Grilled and Italian Beef Filets. In addition, No Name Steaks' Quick-N-Tender U.S.A. Choice Boneless Beef Filets --a product launched about one year ago--have seen continued growth and distribution.

"Checkoff dollars have made it possible for us to work with several branded companies over the last few years to develop innovative concepts and bring those concepts to life for today's consumers," said Lynn Cornwell, Montana beef producer and president of NCBA.

The new beef products--all developed with support from the national beef checkoff--can be served in a variety of applications, such as beef ingredients (Farmland Ground & Browned), beef appetizers (Cheeseburger Fries) and versatile beef meals (Hormel Always Tender line and Boneless Beef Filets).

"The diversity of these beef products reflects the need for convenience, variety and the great beef taste that keeps beef America's No. 1 selling protein," said Carl Blackwell, executive director of new product development for the NCBA.

Not only do these products bring new meal solutions to the table, but they also signify important changes in the beef industry. Long-anchored in the pork arena, Hormel is expanding its business to include beef. Until recently, the most widely recognized Hormel beef products used beef as an ingredient, including Hormel. Chili and Dinty Moore Beef Stew. Today, Hormel is launching its two new, pre-marinated filets and company executives expect that total ACV (distribution) will increase to about 40 to 50% by the spring of 2001.

Sam Hausman, which in the 1970s focused on cryogenic freezing, innovative production methods and modern store distribution, has found a renewed approach to its business--in beef. A fixture of the Texas beef industry for more than 60 years, the company has recently broadened its sales approach to include the national and international marketplace. They will market their value-added beef products through national multi-unit accounts and broad line distributors, while also expanding their line of pre-cooked beef products.

Farmland executives see food branding as a key component to compete as a global agribusiness company. It is investing heavily in the farmer-owned food brand, with a number of new products, including its fully cooked and pre-seasoned ground beef.

Finally, No Name Steaks--purveyors of frozen, pre-marinated, ready-to-cook steaks since 1993--is focused on expanding its convenient beef line and growing business in current markets.

Since 1998, the beef industry's Research and Development Ranch team has participated in the launch of more than 50 new product concepts with partner brands and is working on additional concepts for 2001. The team's focus has been to help industry partners identify new beef and veal product opportunities that complement and grow their businesses--and help transform the underutilized chuck and round cuts.

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