As my first official “on location” assignment for WGB, I traveled to Asheville, N.C., last week, to attend the annual Certified Angus Beef Annual Conference. Aside from enjoying some of the best beef dishes imaginable, my biggest conference takeaway was a silent plea of how I wished more consumers could experience it.
By this, I’m referring to the abundance of love and care demonstrated by the full circle of partners who play a part in getting that certified Angus beef steer from the baby cow on the ranch to the grill in the consumer’s backyard or on their plate at a restaurant. It’s a story that can be easily overlooked among all the other minutia that comes with the selling of beef.
As someone who most often focuses on the retail side of the business—helping stores get the product into consumers’ hands and homes—I’ve had limited experience on the front lines of immersing myself in the journey of what it takes to bring a product to the stores in the first place. But having a chance to witness the interplay between Certified Angus Beef's ranchers, processors, butchers, chefs and retailers, who all play a role in getting their branded beef to the consumer, was both illuminating and inspiring.
For me, the focus has always been on the last step in the process, but learning more about the first steps in the process are vitally important, and it’s a story that retailers should be proud to share.
Many of us in the Midwest, at least, remember that winter seemed to drag on miserably this year. While snow in April for me in the metropolis of Chicago is annoying, it’s a completely different story for the ranchers who are raising cows. The blizzard of April 10, also known as Winter Storm Wesley, blanketed much of the upper Midwest and Great Plains with up to 30 inches of snow. An annoyance for most retailers and consumers for sure.
But what most consumers, and many retailers, didn’t realize is that for a lot of ranchers, that is prime birthing season. One rancher shared the story of how his family tried valiantly to save as many calves as possible, some who were being born as the storm raged. He became visibly emotional as he shared the struggle of going days without sleep to try to spot the baby cows’ little noses poking up from the snow and rescue them from either freezing or suffocating in the snow. The barn and his home were full of baby calves, but his family was unable to save them all.
What came across loud and clear is that the ranchers care about these animals.
I wish more consumers could see and understand that Certified Angus Beef comes from cows that were loved and cared for throughout the entire process. Meanwhile, I maintain it’s a story that is worthy of being told and one that might help potentially boost overall beef sales, because consumers want to feel good about the food they are buying to feed their families.
If you have a story that you think is worthy of being told, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with more details.