Meat processor targets clueless shoppers

MINNESOTA - Dan Hogan admitted he had only a vague idea of what he was doing as he poked through the beef case, looking for dinner. Like many in his generation, the 32-year-old Burnsville man didn't pick up much cooking knowledge growing up.

"We fended for ourselves at home," he said while looking at the variety of beef cuts available at his Cub Foods supermarket. "The extent of our beef was Hamburger Helper."

Cargill Inc. - the second-biggest U.S. meat processor behind Tyson Foods Inc. - is betting that there are a lot of people like Hogan out there. The agribusiness giant and one of its units are launching a marketing campaign that targets consumers - especially younger ones - who may be clueless about chuck roasts, round steaks, briskets and tri-tips.

The campaign comes at a time of surplus in the beef and poultry industries that should translate into better prices for consumers and lower costs for meatpackers this summer, according to Cargill officials and Clinton Meyer, an analyst with Burnham Securities Inc. who follows Tyson.

The drought in the Southwest is leading producers there to send their cattle to market early, they said, while concerns about mad cow disease have hurt beef exports. And even before the bird flu scare, Meyer said, the poultry industry was already suffering from large oversupplies and weak export markets.

To maintain and increase their profitability, Meyer said, companies like Cargill and Tyson are stressing premium brands as part of their marketing programs.

Cargill's campaign features labels that help consumers figure out what to do with a particular piece of meat, online promotions and advice, and cuts that make sense for single people or smaller households.

The campaign is based on the company's own research, which found that eight of 10 shoppers were baffled by the meat case at their stores.

Source: Associated Press via Herald Today
calendar icon 14 April 2006
clock icon 1 minute read
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