The Beef Industry’s New Long Range Plan Sets Important Direction
by Rick Husted, MBA, Vice President-Strategic Planning and Market Research, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff
The beef industry has adopted a new long range plan (LRP) that will guide the industry from 2016-2020. Developed by a task force of industry leaders, this new plan will focus on growing demand for beef over the next five years by addressing key challenges and opportunities. The plan’s vision is simple and straightforward, “To responsibly produce the most trusted and preferred protein in the world.” The mission statement summarizes key elements the plan will focus on and states, “A beef community dedicated to growing beef demand by producing and marketing the safest, healthiest, most delicious beef that satisfies the desires of an increasing global population while responsibly managing our livestock and natural resources.”
The plan’s overall objective is to increase wholesale beef demand by 2 percent annually over the next five years. Taking the turnaround in supply that is underway, that will be no small task. Given that, the LRP task force is challenging industry stakeholders across the supply chain to support the plan by taking specific action on those strategic initiatives most relevant to their area of expertise.
In today’s global marketplace, every successful cattle producer or other beef industry stakeholder knows the importance of planning when it comes to business success.
In fact, every decision companies and organizations make is ideally based on sound research and strategic foresight. While all beef related businesses likely have their own internal plans and objectives, the beef industry recently funded the development of a five-year beef industry long range plan to help ensure the industry, at a minimum, has the underpinnings to engage in and align to a consistent direction. More specifically, the beef checkoff will use this plan to very directly guide their efforts and funding decisions moving forward.
Developed by a task force of 16 industry leaders, the plan took about eight months to complete and was ultimately adopted by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board during July’s 2015 Cattle Industry Summer Conference in Denver.
“While the beef industry has faced many challenges, the future holds tremendous promise for the industry,” according to Don Schiefelbein, owner/operator of Schiefelbein Farms and task force co-chairman. “The task force took a research-based approach to not only determine where the industry is and how we got here, but also at the trends and issues potentially impacting the beef community so that we can be most successful moving forward.”
The task force identified increasing beef demand as the single most important strategic objective for the industry to pursue and established a specific objective to “increase the wholesale beef demand index by 2 percent annually over the next five years" through focus on four core strategies: drive growth in beef exports; protect and enhance the business and political climate for beef; grow consumer trust in beef and beef production; and promote and strengthen beef's value proposition.
"The overall vision of the task force was straightforward,” said John Butler, CEO of Beef Marketing Group and task force co-chairman. “Recognizing the growing demand among the world’s middle class for high-quality protein, we want the U.S. beef industry to responsibly produce the most trusted and preferred protein in the world. At this pivotal point in the U.S. beef industry’s history we need to focus our energies and limited resources on those areas that can provide our industry the best results.”
Beyond these four core strategies, the task force identified specific strategic initiatives that support each. These initiatives are much more focused and at times more aggressive than direction provided by long range plans in the past. The task force clearly recognized the importance of calling out ways to address current issues facing the beef industry today.
A High Level Overview of the Long Range Plan Core Strategies and Strategic Initiatives (see the plan for more detail).
- Drive Growth in Beef Exports
This strategy focuses on gaining access to key foreign markets, adopting an animal I.D. traceability system and promoting the unique attributes of U.S. beef to foreign consumers.
- Protect and Enhance the Business & Political Climate for Beef
This strategy begins with motivating stakeholders to become more engaged in policy concerns to improve the industry’s effectiveness in managing political and regulatory issues that threaten the overall business climate of beef production. It must also include efforts to ensure beef’s inclusion in dietary recommendations, the exploration of new production technologies to replace ineffective or unacceptable production inputs or methods, and a crisis prevention and management plan to prepare the industry to manage key risks and vulnerabilities. Finally, strategies must be developed to attract, develop and enable the next generation of beef industry stakeholders while simultaneously becoming more proactive in supporting global food security messages and activities.
- Grow Consumer Trust in Beef & Beef Production
This strategy includes a critical focus on antibiotic stewardship, the implementation of a certification/verification program and continued investment in beef safety initiatives. Moreover, the industry must engage the entire beef community in building consumer trust and collaborate with a broader group of industry partners and outside organizations to protect beef’s image.
- Promote and Strengthen Beef’s Value Proposition
This strategy is designed to revolutionize beef merchandising, invest in research to communicate beef’s nutritional benefits and capitalize on media technologies to communicate beef’s value proposition and connect directly with consumers. Furthermore, the industry must effectively respond to consumer-based market signals with product improvements and increased production efficiencies while continuing an industry-wide commitment to measuring, improving and communicating progress in beef industry sustainability.
A Call to Action
Challenge yourself and your organization to help achieve the long range plan’s objectives by taking specific action on those strategic initiatives you believe you could most positively impact. The plan will only be as good as the outcomes it achieves. Make your mark and get involved today.
Tags: Beef Issues Quarterly, Research Findings, Winter 2015
December 21, 2015