CHICAGO -- Results from a survey that asked retailers what effect beef browning has on department sales and profits will be released at the Food Marketing Institute convention here next month.
The results come from a survey sent to executives at 100 retail chains and 15 wholesalers/packers by the Hoffman-La Roche Co., Paramus, N.J. The poll, taken in November 1994, had a 30% response rate, the company said.
Hoffman-La Roche is the maker of a vitamin E supplement that is intended as a feed additive for cattle. The drug company says the supplement will improve the color of beef and extend its shelf life.
Judging from the survey, that's just what retailers would like from their beef. A spokeswoman for Hoffman-La Roche, citing a preliminary finding of the survey, said 96% of the respondents said they want to reduce the amount of revenues lost to beef browning.
The full results will be presented at an invitation-only meeting at the convention on Monday, May 8. Scheduled speakers include Dr. Gary Smith and Dr. Brad Morgan, both of the Animal Sciences Department of Colorado State University; Dr. Cameron Faustman, Department of Animal Science, University of Connecticut; and Dr. Adrianne Bendich, of Hoffman-La Roche. The meeting is also expected to include a retailer, although that retailer was not identified as of press time.
The National Cattlemens Association has endorsed the use of vitamin E for years, and produced an 8-minute video touting its benefits to the industry. A copy of that tape, along with background information from Hoffman-La Roche, was included with the survey package to retailers in an attempt to gain support for the supplement at the retail level.
Chuck Lambert, vice president, research and industry information for the NCA, said that in a 1993 test, beef derived from cattle treated with vitamin E was sold in some Safeway stores with good results.
Executives from Safeway Stores, Oakland, Calif., were featured in the video, also supporting the use of vitamin E and the success of the program. They said "vitamin E beef" helped maintain beef's "cherry red color" longer. NCA contends that $1 billion is lost at retail every year due to mark-downs of discolored beef.
Widespread use of vitamin E has been hampered because of the $2 to $3 additional cost per head it will add at the feeder level, said Lambert. Also, he said, there is no definitive way to verify if an animal has been treated with vitamin E or not. But that could be changing shortly, he noted, due to a rapid assay under development by the University of Wisconsin.