Bloggers Increase Knowledge of, Interest in Beef Through State Beef Council Pasture to Plate Program
A recent “#BLOGMEETSBEEF” program highlighting the Pasture to Plate Experience, sponsored by four state beef councils and the Beef Checkoff Program, has helped increase knowledge of beef and beef production among 14 key food bloggers. The event was held April 26-27 in Columbus, Ohio, and funded by the Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin Beef Councils. It was also supported by the family-owned Meijer supermarket chain, which carries only Certified Angus Beef.
The bloggers invited to the event came from across the four states and are followed on their blogs by consumers throughout the United States. They represent a wide range of cooking and family interests, and regularly share knowledge and recipes with other consumers with an appreciation for food, reaching more than 984,000 people on multiple social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The event began with a tour of the Claylick Run Farm, an Angus seedstock and grain operation located in Licking County, Ohio. A presentation from a veterinarian provided key points about necessary animal health aspects of beef production, and was followed by dinner at an upscale casual steakhouse. The following day, the bloggers learned about Meijer meat operations, and were treated to presentations on cutting and cooking beef. They received tips on food photography, and put their own culinary skills to the test in a “Battle of the Beef” Cookoff and Photo Shoot.
“This was a tremendous opportunity to reach out to food enthusiasts who reach thousands of consumers on a daily basis,” said Angie Horkan, director of marketing for the Wisconsin Beef Council. “They came away with a huge appreciation for what it takes to bring beef to America’s dinner tables.”
In fact, pre- and post-event surveys showed the experience had a tremendous influence on how participants view the beef industry, and how they will use their new information in the future. All bloggers said after the event that they believed the positives either strongly (93 percent) or somewhat (7 percent) outweigh the negatives of beef. Furthermore, all said the experience prepared them to communicate simple, healthy ways of incorporating beef either extremely (79 percent) or very (21 percent) well.
“While every consumer would benefit from directly experiencing the beef industry, that isn’t feasible,” according to Elizabeth Harsh, executive director of the Ohio Beef Council. “The next best option is to give those who interact with consumers that opportunity, and that’s what we did here.”
This type of partnerships between state beef councils helps extend the beef checkoff, according to Alison Smith, who coordinates foodservice and retail programs for the Kentucky Beef Council. “By working together, we can build on the success of the national program and on our individual state programs,” she said.
Cindy Hulings of the Michigan Beef Industry Commission agrees. “The Federation of State Beef Councils helps represent state interests at the national level, but these regional efforts give us a chance to work together directly on projects that interest our individual state boards,” said Hulings, MBIC director of promotions and consumer marketing.
The “BLOGMEETSBEEF Pasture to Plate Experience is also one way state beef councils and the Beef Checkoff Program are addressing the beef industry’s Long Range Plan, which calls for the industry to grow consumer trust in beef and beef production by increasing opportunities for food industry influencers to get first-hand experiences with beef producers and beef production practices.
Qualified State Beef Councils, such as those in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, collect the $1-per-head beef checkoff in their states, and may retain 50 cents of each dollar for use at the discretion of their state boards. The other 50 cents per head is sent to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval. States were a key element of the initiation of the mandatory national Beef Checkoff Program in 1985.