Fourth Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting features discussions of meat trends

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COLLEGE STATION – Texas barbecue owners and pitmasters from across the Lone Star state gathered at Texas A&M University in College Station recently for the Fourth Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting.

About 50 people were in attendance, receiving updates on livestock and meat markets for beef, pork, chicken and turkey by Dr. David Anderson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service livestock marketing economist in College Station.

Anderson said demand continues to be steady for U.S. beef.

“Overall, 2017 has been a good year for beef demand,” he said. “We started Jan. 1 with 31 million head of cattle and we are back to inventory levels that we had prior to the 2011 drought. Looking ahead, I’m predicting more beef because we are growing supplies. That will lead to lower prices through 2019.”

Steady demand from the restaurant sector is also helping move supplies of beef.

Anderson forecast supplies of beef growing and lower prices heading into 2018 and on into 2019.

Participants were served prime smoked top butt beef sirloin during lunch.

Lunch was followed by a carcass evaluation segment, then participants moved to the Rosenthal Meat Center classroom to learn more about beef carcass cut-out utilization and value.

Dr. Davey Griffin, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service meat specialist, showed some of the muscles that could be used for barbecue along with other cooking applications. He also answered questions from participants about where the cuts came from.

Ray Riley, manager of the Rosenthal Meat Science and Technology Center, discussed upcoming changes to U.S. Department of Agriculture beef quality grading system, which now allows dentition to determine the maturity of carcasses.

The workshop also featured brisket aging research by McKensie Harris, graduate teaching/research assistant in the department of animal science. The project was funded by Beef Checkoff and focused on whether aging briskets prepared as Texas-style barbecue benefit from aging the same way as beef ribeyes and strips.

The study found that aging did not impact brisket palatability, that briskets can be cooked without concern about aging. The research also found consumers rated samples from the flat higher than samples from the point of the brisket. However, samples from the point were more tender than from the flat. The research has been published in Meat and Muscle Biology, http://bit.ly/2oi8yHY.

Also assisting with the workshop were student workers Kirby Bohls, Kenna Turner and Jordan Hevner. Graduate student Clay Eastwood helped with the beef carcass and cut-out value demonstrations.

The meeting was sponsored by the E.M. “Manny” Rosenthal Chair in the department of animal science at Texas A&M.

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