"No matter what business you are in, you have to realize we are in a more global marketplace than we have ever been," says Mark McCully, vice president for production at Certified Angus Beef. "With the speed of communications, and the transparency necessary today, we need to think globally starting right now. U.S. agriculture, being a traditional industry, has perhaps not thought big enough in the past. The NIAA annual Conference will put a spotlight on this issue."
McCully will speak at the National Institute for Animal Agriculture’s annual conference April 3-6 in Columbus. The conference will focus on the globalization of food production with a prominent lineup of industry, academic and policy experts.
McCully will present during the April 5 general session. He says his organization gives him insight into both the producer and consumer points of view. "Certified Angus Beef is producer-owned and governed by a board of ranchers as a not-for-profit brand, with a mission of increasing the demand for our cattlemen. So, we have a producer vantage point, but we have succeeded by focusing on the perception of our consumer."
"What does the consumer want and what will they pay for? That has been the business model for Certified Angus Beef," says McCully. "It is all about adjusting to what the consumer is saying. That consumer could be in Japan, Atlanta or the Middle East. They all have different preferences, and they all create demand for U.S. cattle."
McCully's presentation is titled "One Billion Pounds and International Trade." The ‘one billion pounds’ refers to exceeding sales of 1 billion pounds of Certified Angus Beef brand product in 2016, a milestone of growth for the brand. Looking toward the next billion pounds, McCully says there is room for tremendous U.S. growth, but there is also a demand for grain-fed high-quality Certified Angus Beef products around the world.
"We are looking at the new middle class, even an emerging upper class, as some of these countries grow economically. They want high-quality protein, which is where a premium brand like ours comes in." If global business for the brand is roughly 15% today, McCully says, "that is going to have to grow as we think of what 2 billion pounds of sales looks like."
This is the first NIAA conference for McCully and he says he applauds the work of the organization. “They are providing a forum for important topics, creating a dialogue and an opportunity for experiences to be shared.” That, according to McCully, is where progress happens. “Collectively, it might just stretch our thinking.”
After the annual conference, NIAA will host an added forum on April 6 on animal well–being, titled "Animal Care Standards — How Laws, Company Commitments, and Public Perception Have Changed the Landscape."
Registration and a preconference ag tour will be offered on April 3. For agenda information and speakers, go to the NIAA website at animalagriculture.org.