Producers, Others Chewing over Standards for Grass-fed Beef
Texas A&M Ag News
Writer: Paul Schattenberg, 210-467-6575,firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Rick Machen, 830-278-9151,email@example.com
Jose Pena, 830-278-9151,firstname.lastname@example.org
UVALDE – The beef cattle industry is experiencing increased consumer demand for specialty beef products, including grass-fed beef, said a Texas Cooperative Extension economist. And a standard for “grass-fed” beef needs to be established for both producers and consumers of this product.
“As with organic and natural beef products, there will need to be a standard developed for producers so they can legitimately designate and market their product as grass-fed beef,”said Jose Pena, Extension economist in Uvalde. “This standard will also allow consumers to know just what they’re getting when they buy a product labeled ‘grass-fed.’”
The beef cattle industry is diversifying to meet consumer demand for specialty products, Pena said. But developing a standard for grass-fed beef products acceptable to the industry and consumers will be difficult.
“Though the food industry is anxious to capitalize on this under-served niche market, consumer research shows beef-buying decisions are based on taste and eating satisfaction,” he said. “Consistency is the key to providing a product, such as grass-fed beef, which serves a special market. But to achieve consistency, a production standard needs to be established.”
There has been some disagreement on grass-fed beef standards. Producer, trade organization, meat industry and consumer responses to a 2002 U.S. Department of Agriculture request for comment on these standards were “all over the board,” Pena said.