February 01, 2023

IBA elects officers, invests in promotions to increase beef sales

MACOMB, Ill. — Paul Walker enjoys working with Illinois beef producers and is looking forward to continuing his position as president of the Illinois Beef Association.

IBA members elected Walker to a second term as president of the statewide group along with Dave Duzan for his second term as IBA vice president during the 2022 IBA Summer Conference and Illinois Forage and Grassland Council Forage Expo.

“I’ve enjoyed working with a great board of governors and executive committee,” Walker said. “They were very proactive, positive and we had good ideas that were shared.”

IBA affiliates held numerous successful meetings and banquets, Walker said.

“Josh St. Peters, Dave and I attended a lot of those,” he said. “Without our strong affiliates our association would be much weaker — we have great people leading at the county level.”

The outlook for 2023 is mostly positive, Walker said.

“But the year ahead will be fill of challenges for the beef industry because we will be in a recession and it will be a major recession, so it won’t be business as usual,” Walker said.

“We will have increased market transparency which is a good thing and I don’t expect a change in market price discovery,” he said.

The IBA will seat a new board of governors and executive committee in July.

“I look forward to working with them,” Walker said. “If the past has been any example, we’ll have great ideas to promote beef in Illinois.”

Walker plans to develop a foundation campaign.

“I’m going to push that because our foundation needs to grow with endowments,” he said. “We have lots of youth programs to support, and without a growing youth commitment, IBA is a dying group.”

The cattle industry is entering a new phase of the cattle cycle.

“We’re going to have decreased cow numbers and decreased feeder calf numbers which means decreased supply,” Walker said. “That should mean increased prices, so it’s a good time.”

“Thank you to Dr. Walker for his continued leadership of IBA,” said Josh St. Peters, IBA executive vice president. “It was truly a highlight for me this year to work with and learn from him.”

The mission of the beef checkoff, St. Peters said, is to build demand for beef through education, communications and marketing.

“Next year will be the 40th anniversary of a checkoff program in Illinois,” he said.

During the past year, the IBA checkoff division funded a strong program built around consumer outreach, St. Peters said.

“We promoted beef consumption and reinforced the value of our commodity as a critical part of a nutritious and functional diet for Illinois’ families,” St. Peters said.

“The majority of our outreach centered around Chicago metropolitan households, as well as urban households downstate,” he said. “We’ve done much of that work through digital advertising and promotional programs tied to several key efforts.”

IBA developed a partnership with Chicago Tribune media.

“We foraged that partnership last summer and it continued this year with the Iowa Beef Industry Council,” St. Peters said. “Our board has continued to emphasize the ability to partner with other checkoff organizations since a lot of out of state cattle get processed in Illinois.”

IBA in partnership with IBIC captured a grant to cost-share in advertising and promotion.

“We had online newspaper promotions and regular features on the home page of the Chicago Tribune website promoting the beef checkoff program,” St. Peters said.

“During the summer grilling season we partnered on a number of printed inserts going to hundreds of thousands of households on grilling and beef recipes highlighting healthy and nutritious ways to put beef on the table,” he said.

Through Facebook and other social media, IBA provided a series of how-to cooking and grilling tips.

“We had contests and we shipped processed beef products right to the doorstep of the winners,” St. Peters said. “The Chicago Tribune campaign has reached nearly 6 million households in Illinois.”

IBA is working with social media influencers.

“At Easter we put together a series of videos made by social media influencers to tell the story of ways to prepare beef for your Easter dinner,” St. Peters said. “I’m amazed with the simple things these influencers do in their own kitchen and in a 36-hour period there can be 30,000 to 50,000 people watch them and share them.”

Another partnership with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association will continue this year for point of sale promotions at Sam’s Clubs.

“Via their app, they can track where you are in the store,” St. Peters said. “So, as you approach the beef aisle, they can raise the awareness of what’s in the beef case and share messages that link to the ‘Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner’ website to increase the sale of beef products.”

Martha Blum

Martha Blum

Field Editor