Adding Value to Beef for Both the Producer and Consumer Back »

Bang for your buck.

Getting more bang for your buck is always a goal in life. This holds true for both beef producers and consumers. Almost everyone likes a good steak, but good steaks are generally considered expensive. One way to lower the cost of a steak dinner is to find the “value added” cuts. Not only do these cuts stretch budgets farther, they also help the producer realize more value from the beef they raise. Steaks such as the flat iron, chuck eye, and the Denver cut are a great way to save money and still have an excellent eating experience. Dependent on the cut, there can be up to a $2-4 per pound savings when these steaks are compared to the common steaks like the rib eyes, T-bones, porterhouse, and New York strip steaks.

Why do these cuts sell for less?

They actually sell for more than they did! How can that be? Prior to these cut becoming steaks they were traditionally included in roasts and ground beef. Beef roast and ground beef will be less expensive than the individual steaks, as shown in the table below. During processing these muscles that have been identified as tender and flavorful can be removed to sell individually versus being sold as a roast or ground beef.

Table 1. A cost comparison* of traditional beef marketing, value cuts, and traditional steaks.

Traditional Marketing Value Cuts Steaks**
Chuck Roast $4-6/lb Chuck Eye Steak Ribeye
Hamburger $3-5/lb Flat Iron Steak $6-7/lb T-Bone $10-14/lb
  Denver Steak NY Strip
*Prices based on grocery advertisements and data collected by the author.
**USDA Choice Beef
 

How do you know these cuts are tender?

In the late 1990’s the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association sponsored several research projects to study the tenderness of different muscles. This research is called profiling, researchers would use several measurements of tenderness such as mechanical “shear force” and sensory panels to reveal which muscles were more tender than others. A great example of this research is the flat iron steak that comes from the chuck, or shoulder of a beef carcass. The flat iron steak in scientific terms is the infraspinatus muscle, which is the second most tender cut coming in behind the tenderloin. Yet, until 2002 it was not marketed as a steak. Another example is the Denver cut which was debuted in 2009 and ranks is the top five for tenderness.

What do I look for?

Cuts to look for: Denver Cut Steak, Flat Iron Steak, and Chuck Eye Steak.

These cuts will gives consumers an excellent eating experience while helping stretch the bottom line of the food budget.

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