How can beef be better? How can producers be compensated for improved quality? Those vexing questions were facing the cattle industry in the 1990s when an innovative group of producers tackled those issues head on. Their work became a success story in building demand by responding to customer needs.
As mentioned, the 1990s were a challenging time for the beef industry. Beef demand had fallen, compared to other proteins. Industry leaders commissioned a national beef quality audit, and the results were not good. “The audit said that one in four beef eaters was not getting a good steak,” Mark Gardiner said. “We were losing beef demand left and right.” The cattlemen felt they were being taken advantage of in the marketplace by the beef packers and wanted to capture more of the processing value.