You may be thinking huh? In the beginning of April, The National Pork and Beef Councils came out with a new campaign aimed towards helping customers more readily identify their cuts of meat as well as how to cook those cuts of meat. According to the research from the councils, customers were having a hard time when shopping at the meat case and were looking for more clarity.
Most names consumers know and love won’t be changing, but after two years of research it became apparent that Americans needed more clarity when they perused the meat case, said Trevor Amen, director of market intelligence for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in Denver.
The old, hard-to-understand labels were based on lists created in the 1970s. They were very anatomical, describing cuts based on their location in the animal, Amen said. That information remains on the new labels, but it’s second after the new cut name.
Now instead of a bone-in pork loin chop, you’ve got a t-bone chop and instead of a pork rib chop, you’ve got a rib eye chop. The thinking is that by naming them with popular beef steak descriptions will make it easier for your average customer to identify the cut.
But it’s not just pork cuts, beef cuts are jumping on the new naming bandwagon too. Soon your boneless chuck roasts will be called Denver Roasts and your boneless shoulder blade steak will be now marketed as a Flat Iron Steak (which we already call it that anyway).
I love that the beef and pork industries are getting on board with our goal of providing education to the consumer, but I have some problems with this new system. First of all, this isn’t a nation wide system or even required system. This is an involuntary system so in reality, you could slap whatever name you darn well please on a package and sell it to unknowing consumers. Not saying that meat markets do, in fact, our shop strives to education and informing our customers about the cuts of meat they purchase. But the point being is that small businesses like ours have no need for these new names. And in reality, it makes our jobs that much harder. We are constantly having to keep up with what’s NEW out there. I remember when a tomahawk steak first came out and somebody called asking if we had one… It took us several days to finally find out what it was and no we didn’t offer it. A tomahawk steak is a bone in rib steak with the rib bone left very long, like a tomahawk.
We tend to not follow the very anatomical and very long names when it comes to selling our products, a pork chop is simply a pork chop. We have no need to get specific with our labels. Grocery stores and retail markets have been doing this for a long time. Innovation in the beef and pork industries whether it be new names of cuts or finding new ways to cut the same whole muscle cuts is really nothing new. What this does is market cuts that have a hard time selling and it also gives those old “tried and true” cuts new life. So when you see a new name in the meat counter, it peaks your interest and you’re more likely to buy it up.
Do I really think that by naming a pork chop like a t-bone steak will help people more readily identify the cut of meat? Not really. I mean you have to know what a t-bone is before you can know where it comes from on a hog too! Do I really think that a label will educate a customer on how to cook their new t-bone chop? Not really. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t provide the public with that information. We present our customers with cooking cards for a variety of products we sell.
These new names have been getting mixed reviews from meat eaters across the country. But rest assured, we won’t be making any changes and will be sticking to our tried and true staples and cuts we’ve always sold. And following our motto to stick to the basics: teach people WHERE it comes from and HOW to use it, cook it. What do you think? Are you in favor of the new names? Have you seen them already popping up in stores? Share with us your thoughts, we’d love to hear them!