This book provides an in-depth analysis of the factors providing the impetus for change in the North American beef industry and how the industry is responding to the challenges. The beef industry story provides lessons for other agri-food industries attempting to respond to rapidly evolving food markets.
The book provides important insights into the process whereby industries respond to a rapidly changing marketplace and, in particular, industries with complex supply chains consisting of many actors. The agri-food industry provides an excellent example of a market that is evolving rapidly in ways few would have contemplated even a few years ago. The beef industry has an exceedingly complex supply chains that must coordinate complex resources such as genetics, extensive grazing, precision feeding strategies, high tech processing, cold chain logistics and food safety protocols. The interaction between changing demands and the beef industry¡¦s responses to an evolving marketplace provide the focus of the book. The book examines the process whereby the beef industry prior is making the transition from a supplier of commodities to a provider of differentiated products with attributes tailored to individual consumers. The book then provides a theoretical basis for the examination of evolving supply chains and a means by which the industry¡¦s response can be assessed using modern quantitative methods. Case studies are developed to dig deeper into the transition the beef industry is experiencing. Insights are drawn for other agri-food sectors facing similar challenges.
Ranchers have always had a special place in the cultural heritage that defines North Americans and beef has been the premium product in the dietary hierarchy in traditional North American cuisine. As urban dwellers who are generations removed from agricultural production now overwhelmingly make up the consumer base, the image of cattle producers is buffeted by new customer priorities such as animal welfare, environmental sustainability and the ability to determine the place of origin of their food. As the proportion of food consumed at home declines and consumers seek to expand their range of culinary experiences, food from cultures where beef is not a mainstay of the diet have gained more prominence. These restaurant experiences are increasingly being reflected in the near table ready products on offer in supermarkets. Consumers are still likely to enjoy a good steak, other traditional beef products now struggle for consumers. The implications of the response of the beef industry to the changes buffeting the sector goes beyond strictly commercial concerns and will determine the place of beef and the industry's participants in the evolving North American culture.