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Arizona Ranchers: Do You Know How to Reach the Next Generation of Beef Eaters? September 16, 2013

Editor’s Note: This article is provided courtesy of Chef Zino and the Beef Checkoff, the marketing and research arm of the beef industry.

By guest blogger Dave Zino, Executive Chef for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association

Imagine a group of Americans who grew up on chicken nuggets and eat more chicken than beef. They have limited cooking skills, and eat out regularly.  Many don’t know a world where the Internet didn’t exist. You have probably seen them holding their smart phones, texting away as they walk down the street; ear buds in place as they listen to music downloaded from iTunes.

Who is this segment of our population? They are the millennial generation. They’re more than 80 million strong and make up 29% of the population. They’re larger than the Baby Boomer generation and they’re currently 13 to 33 years old. This generation is obviously very savvy when it comes to social media and technology; in fact 83% takes their smart phones to bed with them! But when it comes to the technology of the kitchen (i.e., cooking) they’re all thumbs. Beef is a mystery and most don’t know how to cook it. The meat case is one big “sea of red” to them.

New recipes need to fit millennial needs; recipes that are short on ingredients and method, but long on flavor.

Thanks to several checkoff funded studies analyzing the millennial generation, we now have a good knowledge base to understand who they are and the tools they need to incorporate more beef into their menu planning. 74% of millennial parents interviewed stated they were more likely to feed their kids chicken rather than beef, and only 18% stated they would serve beef.  These numbers are based on the misconceived notion that chicken is healthier than beef. When they choose beef, 68% choose ground beef, with 21 % of the respondents choosing steaks.

2 Key Issues Surrounding Millennial’s Take on Beef

1. Convenience

2. Health

3. Grew Up Eating Chicken

The Millennial’s concerns about convenience and health make them cautious beef users. 46% stated that it was not convenient to cook beef for children, while 55% felt they should moderate the amount of red meat they feed their children due to health concerns, and 65% feel their children prefer chicken over beef. Finally, more than half of the respondents stated that they felt beef did not give them enough meal options.

As a lifelong beef lover these numbers disappointment me, but let’s look on the bright side: the beef community has a great opportunity for education. For example, millennial parents feel comfortable cooking ground beef and understand burgers and meatballs. In general they like beef and would eat more and choose different cuts, if they knew how to prepare them. Although they see chicken as their blank canvas to create meal inspirations, with the right communication efforts any beef cut could become that blank canvas for them to create delicious and healthy beef meals.

Attracting Millennials to Beef

1. Highlight steaks

2. Recipes should focus on lean cuts

3. Recipes should show the versatility of steak

4. Highlight family friendly cuts like sirloin

5. Recipes should fit their needs

6. Recipes should be sort on ingredients and method, long on flavor

With the Millennial interest in steaks, recipe development will continue to focus on lean cuts to help drive home the health benefits of eating lean beef. Recipes will focus on showing the consumer the versatility of steaks; especially steaks like Top Sirloin.

Because Top Sirloin is a family friendly cut that can be grilled whole as a steak, cut into cubes for kabobs, or into strips for stir-fry, each one of these applications avails itself to a variety of recipe development options. New recipes need to fit their needs; recipes that are short on ingredients and method, but long on flavor.

How do we change attitudes and expectations? We change them by engaging with our target audience–reaching them where they are; not where we expect – or want – them to be. The Beef Checkoff’s good news Food and Nutrition PR team is engaging with bloggers and using other social media tools (like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest) to reach them, since social media is where they  seek out information.

All in all, I think it is an exciting time to be in the beef community. The challenge is in front of us, and thanks to the Checkoff we have the opportunity to influence the next generation of beef eaters.

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