Brand-Centered Beef

Angus yearling in a ranch pen. The process of earning the Certified Angus Beef label starts at the ranch, and this yearling is just in the beginning stages.

High standards and high quality are two things Certified Angus Beef is known for; not just in their products, but in their people too.

“That’s what’s great about CAB,” said Bruce Cobb, CAB executive vice president of production and alumnus of the Texas Tech University agricultural communications program. “They hire people that fit the culture of the organization. They hire people that have the right character, the right value system, the right kind of grit, the right kind of passion.”

Cobb’s role for the brand is to interact with people on both sides of the fence – the supply side and the demand side. This means he sees how the brand affects people internally and externally.

“The brand brings together the community, from the producers all the way to the consumers, chefs, retailers … it’s not like anything else,” Cobb said.

The bringing together of people from every spectrum through the centralized product of beef is something Cobb said is one of the biggest drivers of the brand. An affliction to the beef business is the physical separation between producers and consumers, but CAB works hard to constantly close that gap.

Abbie Burnett, CAB producer communications specialist and an alumna of the Texas Tech University agricultural communications program, also values the community that accompanies the organization.

“I love to work here simply because of the people,” Burnett said.

Burnett said a certain kind of people work for the brand. They are a brand full of collaboration amongst themselves, from the top of the chain to the bottom. On her first day at CAB, Burnett was sitting in on the biweekly announcement breakfast when she had an encounter that sparked her admiration for the community.

Before the meeting began, as people were mingling, a man struck up a conversation with Burnett. After a few moments of casual conversation with her, the man began the meeting, and she became aware the man she had just spoken with was John Stika, the president of CAB. Burnett said the fact the president of the brand knows people’s names and positions, even on their first day, shows the brand has cultivated a family-like culture.

“I can’t speak enough about how incredible this company is to its employees,” Burnett said, “and I think that’s a big testament to how well we’ve done outside of these walls.”

According to Burnett, the brand is full of quality people, but it is also full of quality cattle that results in quality product.

“The only thing we can control is this brand image,” Burnett said. “What the brand means, what it represents, and how it’s displayed; we protect it at all costs.”

“You can have the No. 1 brand in the business and have a culture like we have.

In order to protect the brand image, CAB has a list of specifications that must be met in order for the brand to ensure an amount of consistency will be delivered at all times. Consistency is key when it comes to quality. It matters the products look the same, cook the same, and taste the same each time consumers purchase them.

“We’re providing consistent, really good tasting food for people to make memories with while also providing a way for producers who are raising those very steaks, or products, that get a living from it, to be rewarded for it,” Burnett said.

High quality view of the product is also just as important as the high-quality taste of the product. This quality begins at the ranch.

Angus calf in pen with other angus calves.
One of the many faces behind the Certified Angus Beef brand.

Paul Dykstra is the assistant director of supply management and analysis for CAB. He works with cattlemen throughout the sectors to ensure the quality is being set in place for the brand in terms of the end product goals. Dykstra is also a producer of Angus cattle himself.

Dykstra said when it comes to producing to earn the label, producers must be aware of the speculations that are required. The biggest decision factor for meeting the brand is the marbling of the meat. The No. 1 reason cattle don’t make the cut is due to marbling. Dykstra said bull selection and getting priorities genetically set at the ranch is where it starts to begin the process of meeting the criteria around carcass traits.

“If you don’t set the cattle up genetically to perform for carcass merit then it’s pretty hard to then manage them into that,” Dykstra said.

Burnett said it matters what is underneath the hide. Although the black hide speculation of the cattle being black behind the shoulder, above the flank, and in front of the tailhead is the initial factor in determining if the cattle move forward in the labeling process, she said the marbling factor is where most carcasses fall short. The meat needs to look as high quality as it tastes.

By having a consistent look to the product, it helps to drive demand on the consumer side, which helps producers as well. Burnett said they want people who see the brand to want the brand and having consistency increases that want.

In Cobb’s opinion, CAB has greatly improved the quality of beef as the brand continues to grow in significant ways. Being the first brand in the beef business, and still No. 1 today, they continue to be a tribute to the legacy and the heritage of producers wanting to do what’s right while being consumer oriented.

Cobb, Burnett, and Dykstra are proud of the CAB brand. Seeing the label gives them confidence the product can be counted on, both with quality and consistency. They value the label’s assurance to not only the consumer, but to the producer as well.

Certified Angus Beef packaged ribeyes at home.
Serving Certified Angus Beef products at home can take an ordinary meal to an extraordinary meal. (Photo courtesy of Certified Angus Beef)

The culture built through producers working to meet the specifications of the brand to provide consumers with performing product is the cornerstone of CAB. All parts work together through every single stage of the cycle to ensure that what is being created internally is being presented externally.

“You can be the No. 1 brand in the business and have a culture like we have,” Cobb said. “We just look to hire great people.”