Date of this Version
The beef industry has long recognized the importance of quality and consistency in meeting the demands of customers in the marketplace. The critical nature of these product characteristics was clearly stated in the "War on Fat" report issued by the beef industry’s Value Based Marketing Task Force in 1990. That report expressed the industry’s need to define the most appropriate product mix that would achieve the highest level of consumer satisfaction and thus maximize beef demand.
The need for quality and consistency has resulted in several long range research efforts designed to develop technologies that could be used to produce carcasses that satisfy marketplace demands. But as the beef industry is dependent on consumers to drive market share and profitability, a strong data base that defines in-home preparation, endpoint cooking temperature and the relationship of USDA quality grade with these factors is imperative to understanding what makes customers satisfied or dissatisfied with the beef they purchase and consume.
The Beef Customer Satisfaction Project fills that need. Begun in 1993, the project provides solid, comprehensive information on consumer at-home eating experiences. (The findings do not provide information on away-from-home satisfaction of beef.) Using three different retail cuts prepared and evaluated in the homes of moderate to heavy users of beef, the project was primarily designed to:
• Determine the relationship of beef quality grade level to eating satisfaction
• Evaluate the importance of demand drivers such as flavor and tenderness to customer satisfaction
• Obtain information regarding in-home beef cooking methods and product preparation
• Evaluate general cattle management practices affecting product quality and consistency
Consumers in four cities--Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco--kept journals about their preparation and eating experiences with Top Loin Steaks, Top Sirloin Steaks and Top Round Steaks. The steaks represented top Choice, low Choice, high Select and low Select grades.
While the interactions between variables were significant and individual components were difficult to single out, analysis of the extensive study data did provide insight into the level of importance of the different factors investigated. Following is a discussion of those components, listed in order of their importance to customer satisfaction.