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We've all heard time and again the importance of beef tenderness to customer satisfaction. Research continually supports this concept. In the Beef Customer Satisfaction report from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, tenderness was highly correlated to consumer ratings of their satisfaction with the product (r=.85), as was flavor desirability (r=.86). Recent focus group participants in a session discussing beef quality were quick to identify tenderness as one of the primary descriptors to quality. There is no doubt that tenderness is a critical characteristic of beef and providing product which does not meet consumer expectations will definitely reduce satisfaction with the eating experience.
Strategies are needed to enhance tenderness. However, several philosophical or conceptual questions must be addressed before we as an industry pursue particular methods and technologies to meet the desired goal.