What is a "Beef Branded Program"?
By Bob Oros
In the mid 1970's a huge change took place in the beef industry. The discovery of cholesterol made everyone aware of the fat and marbling in the meat they were buying at the supermarket. The USDA responded by changing the grading system which resulted in a much leaner beef. The problem was that the fat (marbling) in beef is one of the main ingredients that makes the meat taste good.
The first one to recognize this as an opportunity to create a brand identity was Certified Angus Beef®. Brand identity means they took a commodity and by requiring certain standards and specifications ended up with a consistent high quality beef. Here is a sample of the specifications as described on the Certified Angus Beef® website:
Modest or higher marbling – for the taste that ensures customer satisfaction
Medium or fine marbling texture – the white "flecks of flavor" in the beef that ensure consistent flavor and juiciness in every bite
Only the youngest classification of product qualifies as "A" maturity – for superior color, texture and tenderness
The next three specifications ensure a uniform, consistent steak size:
10- to 16-square-inch ribeye area
Less than 1,000-pound hot carcass weight
Less than 1-inch fat thickness
And finally, four specifications further ensure the quality appearance and tenderness of the brand:
Superior muscling (restricts influence of dairy cattle)
Practically free of capillary ruptures (ensures the most visually appealing steak)
No dark cutters (ensures the most visually appealing steak)
No neck hump exceeding 2 inches (safeguards against cattle with more variability in tenderness)
Another example would be the Swift Black Angus branded program. Here are their specifications as described on their website:
Swift Premium® Black Angus
Swift Premium® Black Angus Beef meets the highest standards to ensure the mouth-watering Angus taste in every bite.
• Black Angus-type beef cattle, which are proven to offer great flavor
• USDA Choice grade or better
• “A” maturity cattle produce more-tender carcasses
• Moderately thick or thicker muscling that eliminates poor-yielding dairy cattle
• Medium or fine marbling texture provides consistent eye appeal in the meat case
• USDA Certified program ensures consistent quality
There are at least a dozen branded program that offer a consistent high quality product at a slightly higher price. If you have a question on a specific brand don't hesitate to email your question and I will research the information.