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Haven’t tried a flat iron or a shoulder tender yet?

Who knew a chuck roast could taste so good? Remember the old rule “Cook it low and slow?” Kari Underly, a member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association New Product Development Team addressed members of the Illinois Beef Association during the recent Illinois Commodity Conference.
Underly says “It isn’t your grandma’s pot roast anymore.”

Like many of you, I am curious about how my check-off dollars are being spent. As a farm broadcaster, I have the luxury of having that information readily available to me. I took off my farm broadcaster hat and listened to Kari Underly tell me how her team’s efforts could equate to more profit potential for me as a beef producer.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association along with the University of Nebraska and the University of Florida went through some extensive muscle profiling research, discovering 3 or 4 muscles out of the chuck and the round that she refers to as “diamonds in the rough.” They are now able to harvest a muscle that creates the flat iron steak. The flat iron has been receiving rave reviews from consumers. Underly says even overcooked it is still a hit. I personally have had the flat iron on several occasions and as a beef producer, am happy to say that Underly and her group are on to something good.

This research team has also discovered a little muscle called the terras major which is sold as the shoulder tender. In the past, most retailers would grind this muscle for hamburger. The shoulder tender now competes with the pork tenderloin in the meatcase.

The Beef Value Cuts program includes a new line of 13 single-muscle cuts promising easy preparation, greater consistency and more lean beef product options for consumers. Underly says the program includes videos and in-person training and presentation for packers, large and small retailers, and producers. As demand for convenient beef products continues to grow, this new product line of moderately priced cuts from the underutilized chuck and round boxed beef has potential to move more beef.

It is a good time to be in the cattle business, with prices at all-time highs. The concern of course, is that consumers will not purchase beef because it is now selling at a premium in the meatcase. Underly says the Value Cuts program is on target because of the “void” between ground beef and premium steaks. She is receiving more and more calls from retailers because of price issues. Most would look at this as a bad thing, but it presents a great opportunity for these new cuts. With the price spread between hamburger and steak, the consumer is looking for something “in-between.” Underly and her team work with these retailers on in-store merchandising strategies for the new Value Cuts.

Haven’t tried a flat iron or a shoulder tender yet? Ask about it at your local meat counter. I asked for it at the meatcase at Schnuck’s in Columbia, Missouri last week. The woman behind the counter said “Where you from, honey?” It enough people ask for it, we’ll see shoulder tenders and flat iron steaks in every meat case.

As Underly told me, “Everybody has a different stake in the process. . .we still, quite frankly, make steak.”

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