For the 13th year in a row, Certified Angus Beef LLC reported record sales of its signature Certified Angus Beef brand. It’s also the 15th consecutive year of sales growth for the original brand of premium Angus beef. A global network of nearly 19,000 licensed processor, foodservice and retail partners marketed 1.25 billion lb. of product in fiscal 2019 (ending Sept. 30), a 3.1% increase — or an additional 38 million lb. — over the previous year.
That growth, brand president John Stika said, was made possible by “an entire community of Angus farmers, ranchers and feeders being extremely intentional over several years in the way they breed, raise and care for their cattle with a focus on quality.”
It starts at the farm, but Stika gave credit to everyone from farm to plate who brings product to consumers.
“It takes a great number of people filling different yet connected roles for this growth,” he noted. “Fortunately, there is a lot of room at the brand’s table, where integrity, a passion for quality and a desire to lead are shared by everyone who pulls up a chair.”
Monthly sales records; category growth
The Certified Angus Beef brand set sales records in all but three months of fiscal 2019; six months ranked among the top 10 sales months in the brand’s 41-year history. Propelled by strong consumer demand and relatively steady market prices, sales records spanned product categories.
Backed by traditionally strong demand, sales of premium steaks (middle meats) grew by 3.8%. Sales of roasts and other end meats increased 3.4%, and ground beef sales, boosted by the better burger movement, grew by 2 million lb.
Sales of the Certified Angus Beef brand Prime product extension grew by 36.6% — an achievement made possible by historically high availability of the most highly marbled product. Once marketed almost exclusively by foodservice partners, retailers from coast to coast took advantage of the opportunity to enhance their offerings and appeal to their most discerning customers. Consumer choice also propelled sales of the brand’s Natural product line, from animals raised on a completely vegetarian diet with no added hormones or antibiotics.
Global sales of the brand outside U.S. borders reached an all-time high of 207.5 million lb., demonstrating the universal appeal of top-quality beef among diverse cultures and markets. Leading the way in growth was Japan, followed by Taiwan, Colombia and the Dominican Republic.
Representing 43% of the brand’s sales, retail division sales increased for the fourth consecutive year, up 8.8% to achieve an all-time record of 537.5 million lb. In addition to Prime product driving sales, retailers increasingly chose to feature the brand rather than a lower-priced protein option on the front page of their circulars. Creative seasonal promotions focusing on summer grilling, tailgating and holiday roasting also captured consumers’ attention.
Marking a decade of continuous, consistent growth was the foodservice division, which achieved a 4.6% increase. Upscale fine dining and steakhouse business, along with the gourmet burger and barbecue categories, drove this growth. Led largely by the efforts of licensed distributors, restaurants that actively promoted the brand on their menus increased sales by an average 10% versus the previous year.
According to Certified Angus Beef, sales of branded value-added products set a new record also for the 10th consecutive year, exceeding 33 million lb. The jump was driven by processors responding to increasing consumer demand for high-quality convenience products. Eighteen of 21 product categories experienced growth, led by foodservice accounts purchasing marinated thin meats and smoked brisket, while retailers drove sales of marinated end meats.
Focus on quality
Since the Certified Angus Beef brand’s start in the 1970s, family farmers and ranchers have been its foundation. Their efforts to raise quality cattle meeting the brand’s 10 exacting standards enable licensed processors, distributors, restaurateurs and retailers to meet consumers’ strong demand for premium beef.
These families continued to build on a years-long focus on quality and raised more cattle that met those standards. The rate of Angus cattle eligible to earn the brand rose to a record 35%, a collective improvement that translated into a supply increase of 470,000 head.
“That increase is significant because it doesn’t happen by random chance,” Stika said. “It represents an entire community focused on quality, which came about directly through the economic signals generated by the additional demand for the Certified Angus Beef brand among consumers.”
To put that trend in context, Stika noted that since 1998, when beef demand was at an all-time low, the entire beef industry has experienced a $60 billion increase in annual consumer expenditures.
“Quality improved, and demand followed suit,” he explained. “The Certified Angus Beef brand, through the efforts of its partners, has been a meaningful part of that success. Through their commitment, they’ve helped direct the entire industry, drawing it closer to the consumer. As they do so, they’re providing a more sustainable future for all.”