I recently read an article in the Washington Post entitled “Cattle Have Gotten So Big Restaurants and Grocery Stores Need New Ways to Cut Steaks.” Let me remind you, the Washington Post is NOT a beef industry publication. However, it is read by thousands and thousands of beef consumers. I will share a Few Excerpts from This Article along with my thoughts – for your consideration.
If you’ve dined at a steakhouse recently or grilled a rib-eye for dinner, you may have noticed a curious trend: Steaks are getting thinner. As U.S. beef cattle have ballooned in size, experts say restaurants, grocery stores and meat processors have had to get creative in how they slice and dice them up. For the most part, that means thinner steaks – as well as more scrap meat.
The cattle industry argues that it provides cheaper and more plentiful beef from fewer cows – but there’s emerging evidence that consumers dislike the changes to their steaks. That could hurt the beef sector in the long-run.
Larger cattle means larger muscles. For restaurants and grocery stores, that has proved to be a challenge. “It’s a lot more work for our meat cutters,” said Travis Doster, the spokesman for Texas Roadhouse, a steakhouse with more than 400 locations.
The surface area of the average rib-eye grew roughly two square inches (two postage stamps) between 1991 and 2016. Those larger muscles result in massive, expensive portions if they are cut to a traditional one- or 1½-inch thickness. “As a result,” said Davey Griffin, a professor of animal science at Texas A&M, “restaurants and grocery stores have changed how they cut and market steaks. The most common adjustment is to simply slice traditional cuts thinner.”
If you are like me… you love a thick, juicy steak – but one that is not so big it cannot be consumed in one meal. Leftover steak is never as good as it was the first time. The average weight of live cattle at slaughter has been steadily increasing at about 8% every 10 years for the past 60 years. Consequently, we either need to eat much bigger portions – or cut our steaks much thinner. Thin steaks are nearly impossible to cook correctly.
The status quo beef industry thinks it has done great things. In truth, however, its relentless selection for bigger and bigger beef animals has drastically reduced pounds and profit per acre for the cow-calf producer – as well as created meat cuts that are too big for the consumer. When are we going to say, “Enough is enough!”?
One year ago, I started a three-week series with an article entitled Does the World Need What We Produce?. Most cow-calf producers have been deceived into believing the world needs the beef they produce. In reality, the world does NOT need the beef we produce. Rather, the world wants the beef we produce. There’s a big difference!
Beef eaters, for the most part, are among the world’s elite – and many of them live in the United States of America. Most of the world’s population consider beef to be a luxury item. Once we acknowledge and understand the fact that the world really does not need what we produce, we are able to take a completely different look at who our customers are. I firmly believe this will eventually change the way we produce and market our product. If beef is a luxury item, then we should stop marketing it as a necessity.
What do you think?