The 2011 National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA), conducted every five years since 1991, assesses progress the industry makes on a variety of production issues that ultimately affect consumer demand for beef. It is funded through the Beef Checkoff Program.
“The data from this multi-faceted study is extensive, and covers every segment of the beef production chain that takes our product to the consumer,” said John Paterson, executive director of producer education at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a beef checkoff contractor. “We believe the results of this research will help drive change in our industry and allow our producers to take necessary steps to build on our core strengths, as well as identify areas in which we can improve.”
The research began in 2011 and includes three stages: Phase I included more than 200 face-to-face interviews with individuals from every segment of the beef production and marketing chain; Phase II included an in-plant survey involving eight harvest facilities and about 18,000 cattle observations across the United States; and Phase III was a benchmark survey of seedstock, cow/calf, stocker and feedyard segments of the industry. A three-day strategy session involving representatives of every segment of the U.S. beef chain helped provide additional analysis of, and industry direction for, collected data.
Among the issues covered in the research were beef tenderness and taste, food safety, beef quality, production practices, purchasing considerations, animal welfare, and channel communications and transparency. Those assisting in the research included Texas A&M University, Colorado State University, Oklahoma State University, Texas Tech University, Pennsylvania State University, West Texas A&M University, Cal Poly State University, USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service and USDA-Meat Animal Research Center.
For 20 years, the NBQA has supplied information to help the industry make improvements in production and marketing that aim to improve the quality of beef for consumers. For instance, injection-site lesions were identified by purveyors, restaurateurs and retailers as their second highest concern in 1991. Thanks, at least in part, to the checkoff’s beef quality efforts, it is no longer a major issue. Paterson says NBQA managers hope similar progress can be accomplished through the 2011 research.
“We have a wealth of information that will be helpful to beef producers as they determine key quality factors to focus on in their own operations,” he said. “At the same time, this information is important to our industry as we assess our progress and determine gaps in knowledge, communications and performance that keep us from being as effective and efficient as we can be.”
-- Beef Checkoff News