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Retail beef market embraces new cuts

published: November 17th 2020
source: Texas AgriLife Today
Chuck flap, rib-eye filet, tomahawk steak, Denver or Sierra cuts, flat irons and tri tips – the landscape of the local grocery meat case is changing when it comes to beef cuts, according to a Dr. Davey Griffin, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Meat Specialist. As the COVID-19 pandemic brought beef shortages, consumers may have noticed some different cuts of beef when their traditional selections were sold out. Some were even hesitant to purchase because they were unfamiliar with how to prepare them. The recent pandemic has spotlighted changing supermarket offerings, but these newer beef cuts have been available for some time and are starting to gain popularity with chefs and others across the nation due to their reasonable cost and flavorful eating experience.
 
The chuck, rib, loin, and round along with the brisket are some of the major primal cuts familiar to consumers. Separating a beef carcass yields about 33% trimmable fat and bone and another 20%-25% in trimmings for sausage, ground beef, and pizza toppings. The middle meats (loin and rib), where the higher-value steaks come from, account for only 10%-12% of the carcass but over one-third of the value of the whole carcass. “The rest of it is the other muscles, and those are the ones we are trying to utilize more – enhance the value because they are the lower-cost muscles that still provide an excellent quality beef cut for consumers,” Dr. Griffin said.
 
Over the past 10-15 years, the industry and Texas A&M started identifying those muscles that could be used to produce other affordable cuts. “Enhancing the value of cuts from the chuck and round not only helps consumers have a great moderately priced eating experience, it also increases the overall value of the carcass,” Dr. Griffin said. “That also has potential to add to the value of live cattle.”
 
“We know these cuts are changing to meet the changes of consumers,” Griffin said. “Over the years the size of families has grown smaller. They aren’t cooking a great big roast or porterhouse steak anymore.” The chuck is being broken down very differently, providing new cuts more targeted for different cooking and eating experiences, he said. “The second most tender muscle in the beef carcass comes from the chuck and is now being merchandised as a mid-priced flat iron steak,” Griffin said. “It was just in a chuck roast. Now it is pulled out, and it is a menu item at restaurants. It has enhanced the whole value of the carcass and provided the consumer an affordable eating experience.
 
The petite shoulder tender also has become overwhelmingly popular with chefs, and ranch steaks have a nutritional value close to a boneless, skinless chicken breast, he said. Other new cuts – ribeye filets, ribeye caps and sirloin caps – also provide some new opportunities for retailers and consumers. “There was a while in there that some of this was attempted and retailers couldn’t get much movement on some of the newer cuts,” Dr. Griffin said. “Now, with newer customers and those willing to try new things, they are starting to get movement, and customers are having good experiences and are willing to try them again.”

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