Initiative Fund Helps New York Boost Beef in Foodservice Market
Foodservice support for beef in New York was given a special boost this past year as the New York Beef Industry Council (NYBIC) conducted a “Beef Up the Center of the Plate” program. The checkoff-funded effort provided promotional and educational opportunities for foodservice distributor sales staffs, their customers (chefs and restaurant owners) and culinary school students.
During the program, the NYBIC utilized three strategies to reach these key beef marketers. The first strategy included trainings for distributor sales staffs, utilizing materials from the checkoff-funded Beef University and other checkoff-developed concepts, including Beef Alternative Marketing (BAM) ideas. Presentations were tailored to distributor needs and helped demonstrate the value of adding more beef to restaurant menus.
The second strategy involved expanding the number of New York culinary students who receive training about the beef industry. In October and April the program offered 11 different tours of beef operations to New York culinary schools and educated more than 250 students about the industry and its products. Four additional classroom presentations on beef were made to another 125 students.
The third strategy was a cooperative effort with the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative to sponsor beef seminars and an education booth at the 2013 Northeast Regional American Culinary Federation (ACF) Conference in Verona, N.Y., March 17-19.
A focus of all elements of the program was the introduction of the industry’s new beef alternative merchandising and beef value cuts concepts, giving those who market through the foodservice channel more ideas for adding value to menus through use of beef.
A survey after the ACF Conference found that 75 percent of participants said they would utilize and share information with colleagues. While 80 percent of participants at the culinary schools said they had little to no knowledge of raising cattle prior to the tours, more than 80 percent said they understood cattle raising well to somewhat well. Furthermore, 81 percent said they could explain how beef is produced to a consumer/friend/family member after the tour.
“About half of all beef sales are made through restaurants and other foodservice establishments, so it’s important we address this channel’s needs and wants,” says Carol Gillis, NYBIC executive director. “Our goal for the program was to utilize existing beef industry tools to help provide those who market beef in New York and the region with additional reasons for increasing beef’s presence on menus.”
The program was partially funded with a $20,000 grant from the Federation of State Beef Councils Initiative Fund. The Federation Initiative Fund helps funnel beef checkoff dollars from cattle-producing states to states with high consumer populations. Through the Federation’s Executive Committee, the fund has awarded about $2.2 million to 22 states conducting 180 programs since it was started in 2006.