1/5/2017 12:00:00 AM
Checkoff Study: Beef Maintains Favorable Tenderness Ratings
Contact: Melissa Jackson, 308-697-3486; email@example.com
Favorable tenderness ratings for beef steaks,
which have improved significantly since 1990, have remained steady over the
past five years, recent research shows. This quality retention has occurred
despite environmental and financial challenges that could have derailed its
progress. The beef checkoff-funded 2015/2016 National Beef Tenderness Survey
was conducted at Texas A&M University, which has surveyed beef tenderness
regularly since 1990.
“Despite some challenges over the past ten years, including drought,
fluctuating supply and rising input costs, the tenderness of the beef being
produced in the United States has remained steady, and often improved,”
according to Jeffrey Savell, Ph.D., the lead investigator of the research at
Texas A&M. “Beef is delivering a good eating experience to consumers, and
this research suggests the industry is keeping its eye on the ball when it
comes to protecting the improvements in tenderness it has made.”
Results from the first survey, conducted in 1990, confirmed that significant
tenderness issues existed with cuts from the chuck, round and sirloin. Over the
next 15 years tremendous improvements in tenderness were realized. Results from
the 1999 survey showed a 20 percent increase in tenderness, while a 2005/2006
survey showed an 18 percent improvement over 1999 – and 34 percent improvement
over results in 1990, with most steaks evaluated as tender.
Reasons for the improvement included increased aging time, longer and slower
chill rates and more branded programs at retail. In 2005/2006, about 47 percent
of retail cuts were marketed through branded programs designed to guarantee
certain quality traits, including tenderness.
While fewer branded products were surveyed compared to a decade ago, results
from the 2015/2016 survey found that, as with the 2010/2011 survey, most steaks
were considered tender. Warner-Bratzler shear force values, an objective
measure of tenderness, were consistent with values noted five years ago for
ribeye, top blade, top loin and sirloin steaks. Similar to previous surveys,
the 2015/2016 survey indicated a need for more industry focus on tenderness and
increasing the overall consumer "liking" for cuts from the round.
Because the survey shows rounds are sometimes not aged sufficiently, and
consumer understanding of the different cooking methods necessary for round
cuts is limited, enjoyment of cuts from this primal could be improved, the
“Our research proves that all cuts aren’t created equal,” said Savell.
“While they have a wonderful flavor profile, cuts from the round remain an
industry tenderness challenge. Future focus needs to include a collective
effort to utilize optimal aging practices as well as more support for extensive
consumer cooking education for round cuts.”
Savell said that with tenderness goals generally being achieved across many
cuts, additional focus and research could be placed by the industry on other
quality traits, such as flavor.
For more information about your beef checkoff investment, visit
The Beef Checkoff Program
was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per
head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a
comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States may retain up
to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the
Cattlemen's Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national
checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.