A cut above the rest
Angus beef is widely accepted as being of a superior quality to others, but only the finest cuts are able to meet the exacting standards needed to become part of the Certified Angus Beef ® brand
Developed from the predominantly black cattle of Northeast Scotland, the Aberdeen-Angus breed was first introduced in the early part of the 19th century. Later, in 1873, Scotsman George Grant transported four Angus bulls to the middle of the Kansas prairie. He later crossed them with native Texas longhorn cows to produce a large number of hornless black calves that survived well on the winter range, wintering better and weighing more the next spring, thus demonstrating their value to their new homeland.
With the first great herds of Angus beef cattle built up by purchasing stock directly from Scotland, 1200 alone were imported in the five-year period between 1878 and 1883. It was the subsequent careful process of line breeding and selection of type that laid the foundation for what would go on to become recognised as the greatest beef breed in the world.
In the last several decades, “Angus” next spring, thus demonstrating their value to their new homeland. With the first great herds of Angus beef cattle built up by purchasing stock directly from Scotland, 1200 alone were imported in the five-year period between 1878 and 1883. It was the subsequent careful process of line breeding and selection of type that laid the foundation for what would go on to become recognised as the greatest beef breed in the world.
In the last several decades, “Angus” Angus producers coming together to take charge in developing and marketing a system for the first brand of premium Angus beef. Calling upon the support of the American Angus Association ®, this grassroots initiative planned to identify superior Angus cattle and provide customers with only the highest quality of beef.
With the backing of the Association obtained, plans for the Certified Angus Beef ® brand were finalised in November 1977, with the approval of the brand’s specifications – created by The Ohio State University’s meat scientist Dr. Bob VanStavern – granted the following year. Under the leadership of the brand’s first executive director, Mick Colvin, work began to find packers and retailers that would accept the original brand of Angus beef. Then, in October 1978, Val Decker Packing in Piqua, Ohio, confirmed enough qualifying Angus cattle to supply three IGA stores owned by Bob Renzetti of Columbus.
Best of the best
Since 18th October, 1978, the date that one Ella Whitt purchased the first Certified Angus Beef ® brand product, it has stood strong as the original and best brand of Angus beef. “Throughout the years, we have grown in regions across the world, spanning from Asia to the Middle East, and across North, Central and South America,” begins Assistant Director of International Market Strategy, Gebran Charbine. “This has been possible because of the strong partnerships our team has forged with ranchers, packers, exporters, foodservice distributors, retailers and restaurateurs. Today, Certified Angus Beef ® brand products are available in grocery stores and restaurants in the United States and 49 other countries. With consumer reach showing 94 per cent recognition of the brand logo, grocery stores that offer Certified Angus Beef ® brand products include Meijer and Giant Eagle in the United States, H-E-B in Mexico, Longo’s in Canada, and Tamimi Markets in Saudi Arabia, to name just a few.”
As well as the retail sector, consumers can also find Certified Angus Beef ® brand products throughout the foodservice sector, with its beef available across the United States in restaurants such as RED The Steakhouse, Taste of Texas and Johnny Rockets. Beef lovers can also enjoy the brand overseas at the Tokyo American Club in Japan, Al Boom Steak and Seafood at the Radisson Blu, Kuwait, Greenhouse Restaurant & Bar in St. Thomas, and Restaurante Alma in Colombia.
The Certified Angus Beef ® brand team recognises there is something of a romantic relationship people have with beef – one that they tend not to have with other meats, such as fish or chicken. The idea of beef lovers sharing stories of a great steak or burger they have enjoyed with friends and family has always been at the heart of the brand. Today, it provides three different offerings in order to appeal to different tastes.
The Certified Angus Beef ® brand is the traditional product. Adhering to its stringent quality standards, only the best cuts of USDA Choice and Prime make the cut, and each promises to deliver a taste of the heartland by being perfectly marbled, incredibly juicy and tender, and packed with flavor. Taking the best of the best, and then improving it further still, is Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime. The most luxurious beef available, Certified Angus Beef ® brand Prime represents the top 1.5 per cent of all beef, giving consumers the very best melt-in-yourmouth cuts available. Last, but by no means least, is Certified Angus Beef ® brand Natural. While a consumer can always trust that any cut of the brand’s beef is the result of zero shortcuts, the Natural program goes a step further with what it calls its “never, never, never” approach. The program ensures that Angus cattle are never given antibiotics nor additional hormones, and never fed anything but a 100 per cent vegetarian diet. Furthermore, each one is traceable to its place of birth.
“A cut above USDA Prime, Choice and Select, there is only one Certified Angus Beef ® brand, and we have 10 quality standards that ensure the brand’s premium name,” Gebran continues. “The secret to our outstanding flavor, however, is marbling – the little, white flecks in beef that melt while cooking, leading to the great, beefy flavor people love. The standards we use also cover maturity for superior tenderness, colour, texture and firmness, consistent sizing for perfect presentation, and quality appearance and tenderness for a steak, or burger, that looks as good as it tastes.”
To earn the Certified Angus Beef ® brand name, the cattle used must first be Angus-influenced, with a predominantly black coat, before then meeting the aforementioned specifications. In terms of marbling and maturity, the beef must possess modest or higher marbling, and a medium or fine marbling texture while only the youngest classification of product qualifies as “A” maturity. Meanwhile, when it comes to sizing, there must by a 10- to 16-square-inch ribeye area, a 1050-pound hot carcass weight or less, and less than one inch fat thickness. Lastly, in order to meet the brand’s quality appearance and tenderness standards, the beef must have superior muscling, be practically free of capillary ruptures, contain no dark cutters and its neck hump must not exceed two inches.
At the same time that people are becoming more and more conscientious about the value of the items that they purchase, restaurant customers are progressively demanding higher-quality food and service than ever before. Both of these factors have contributed to the continued growth in global demand for Angus beef while its superb flavor has been proven to be a key source of appeal to new customers, and the reason that regular consumers keep coming back for more. According to the Oklahoma State University’s 2004 Journal of Animal Science, the exacting standards that each Certified Angus Beef ® brand product meets help to reduce the odds of a tough steak by nearly 300 per cent compared to USDA Choice. When offering a USDA Select steak, chances of a tough steak are one in six, while chances with a USDA Choice steak are one in 13. When comparing those numbers to the Certified Angus Beef ® brand’s one in 50 chance, you can see there is one clear winner.
“We still believe that the best way to meet our standards is through dedicated family farmers and ranchers,” Gebran states. “They follow the example of our founding producers, who, in 1978, declared that they wanted nothing more, and nothing less, than to create the best Angus beef ever made. They are responsible for helping to ensure that the Certified Angus Beef ® brand tastes like no other. It is the highest quality beef with the greatest availability, and the people behind the brand make sure that product integrity and consistency is maintained in every bite.”
Over the next year, the Certified Angus Beef ® brand team will look to continue to deliver unparalleled marketing solutions to its partners while at the same time focusing on integrated strategies that can enhance its retail and foodservice partners globally. “Our goal is to be a ‘centre-of-the-plate’ solution for our partners around the globe,” Gebran concludes. “We strive to lead in quality and availability, and hope to drive consumer recognition and provide unparalleled marketing support. Most importantly of all, we want to continue helping our partners provide beef to consumers that is exceptionally flavorful, incredibly tender and naturally juicy.”